Everyone is Hurting

I know most people feel like they limped into 2017. Some bruised. Some wounded. Some angry. Some grieving. Some questioning. Some filled with joy. I feel like some people are trying to sort through the heightened emotions of 2016 the way we sort through our dirty laundry. Which clothes do I wash first?

I know most people feel like they limped into 2017. Some bruised. Some wounded. Some angry. Some grieving. Some questioning. Some filled with joy.  I feel like some people are trying to sort through the heightened emotions of 2016 the way we sort through our dirty laundry. Which clothes do I wash first? The colored clothes or the white clothes? Which issue will I address first? The personal issue in my family? The fact that the evangelical church is splintered and very torn- and I have real questions about my spiritual upbringing? Or the fact that our nation is very divided and 2016 felt like we were at war, especially if you are on Facebook. Thank God for Christmas and people having babies, everyone has put their political posts to rest (for now…). We all needed a break from debating with or reading the debates online. Its exhausting. At some point we have to get offline to being sorting through our laundry and cleaning our clothes.

Last year, I felt overwhelmed by the pain and hurt everyone was experiencing. As a black woman I mourned for the many injustices that occurred. As a black Christian woman I felt torn by “the churches” political stance and complete divide…it almost felt as if you had to choose a side and there was no leaning into the discomfort of disagreement. As if all Christians had to display uniformity…and if you didn’t- either way your faith was called into question, no matter what “side” you landed on. I know I landed in the camp of outsiders, feeling spiritually homeless. And now that Trump will be president in less than two weeks, I am nervously holding my breath for what will happen next. How our country will change and how I must choose to advocate going forward? Can Trump voters and non-trump voters peacefully co-exist? I know we can. Year after year, people co-exist peacefully despite political differences. Why does it seem so hard to do now? If your friendship with someone is contingent on their political affiliation you weren’t friends anyways. We can respectfully disagree without being aggressive or on the defense ready to be offended. 

In spite of all this stuff, I landed on a few truths for myself that have been life changing.

  1. I have complete hope in Jesus. My trust is not in a church or evangelicalism. My hope is not in tradition or a list of rules. My hope is in Jesus. There are mysteries I do not understand in the Bible. I am okay with the unknown. I do not have to have an answer for everything, nor do I need one. People will fail me. My trust is not in church “leaders”. I know many people lost their faith in the church and I’ll be honest, I almost did too. Church sometimes feels more like a cooperation but really, regular people make the church what it is today. Not a building, pastoral staff, ministry, or event. The church is you and me. I am friends with many beautiful souls and collectively we are the church. My relationships with them give me hope for us as people trying our best to live this one life we have for Jesus and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. We won’t get it all right but if we can commit to love we are on the right track.
  2.  I need to limit my time online. Just CLOSE Facebook and walk away.
  3. My physical, emotional, and mental health is important to me. I will take care of myself and not put my health on the back burner.
  4. I have spent more time with friends and mentors who are smarter than me. I can waste my time scrolling through my feed online or I can surround myself with people who will help propel me into my future. This was an easy decision for me.

So while we are all sorting through what we want to keep and throw out in 2017, lets remember that people came into 2017 with some real hurt. We can extend grace and compassion to one another, even when we do not agree. And even if it seems hard, find something nice to say instead of being an emotional terrorist behind the keyboard, causing havoc online. We can assume the best about one another. This year we need less judging and more loving. Maybe we can all try to heal together in 2017.

Deeply Hopeful-

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Lessons learned: The ugly truth about breaking up…

How do you start over?

I don’t see many articles or books talking about starting over after you have spent any significant about of time or energy into a relationship. Or maybe you had a short-lived physical relationship that has left you empty. Either way, if you have experienced any loss in a relationship, no one seems to talk about it that often. Its something you press through and get over it or “sweep under the rug”. Truth be told, we all know that moving on from someone you gave your heart or body to is not easy. It takes time, energy, healing, and renewing of your mind.

Songs, places, things people may do, can easily trigger a memory or thought about that person who was once special to you. You may spend months venting, laying in your bed, eating ice cream, drinking wine, crying, stalking their social media accounts, and replaying your last conversation; all in an attempt to forget or justify why things did not work out. You may think: Was I not pretty enough? Bold enough? Was I too emotional? Was I not skinny enough? Did I have too much baggage? Was my personality too overwhelming? Maybe, I shouldn’t have said that? Have we really grown apart? Are we truly going separate ways? Was this a mistake? I still love them but we are better off separated rather than together. I miss him but they are not good for me. I am lonely without them but I cannot tell anyone that because they will think I am crazy. I miss his smile and laugh, I miss their adventurous spirit. Is it really over? Are we really done? We have done this before, maybe we will get back together?

No. It’s really over.

Now it’s time for you to move on. How do you move on? Where do you even start? Good question, after a break-up, I have asked myself that often. Where do I even begin? This question is especially hard for me when I have scarified who I am to fit in, to be the person he wanted me to be. Oftentimes, I have felt like guys aren’t too attracted to a driven, focused, and confident woman; they are intimidated by me. This has caused me to shrink back and trade my confidence for fear and insecurities and when he is gone, I am left with fear and insecurities. Now, I must choose to climb out of this hole and start again or wallow in fear and insecurities. It’s a simple choice but a painful one too. I must deal with the deeper issue. What makes me compromise myself for someone who cannot understand or accept me for who I am? Why did I let them in? I should have said hit the door in the first place but I didn’t and now I am left picking up the pieces, again. When will I get it? When will I be okay with being who I am and who I am called to be unapologetically? I think we must all ask ourselves those questions. Ask yourself why you keep dating the same type of guy and end up hurt all over again? Why do you settle? And no I’m not talking about waiting for elusive perfect man, I’m talking about in your gut, you know if you should be with a person or not, when you ignore that feeling and stay with the person anyway, usually it ends eventually. What hole do you need someone to fill so much that you ignore the signs telling you to stop, turn around, don’t go any further. Do you think you are not worth love and belonging? Do you think you will never meet a man who loves you and loves Jesus (Not the type of church guy who is trying to “stay pure” but has no boundaries and is interested solely in your body. That’s a whole different topic). Have you messed up so much that you think you are not worthy? Not “pure” enough? Your tainted now, huh?

I have spent a lot of time worrying about the wrong things and looking for the wrong things. When will I [you] be okay with saying, “It was nice to meet you, I think you are a great guy, but not the guy for me.” Instead of worrying about hurting someone’s feelings, be honest and let it burn. This will save everyone involved the time, energy, emotional headache and heartache. Ladies, let’s remember, guys have feelings too, don’t lead them on. 

We pick ourselves up and move on when we refuse to stay stuck. Sometimes, you should not turn back to that relationship and need to move forward. Sometimes, the timing is wrong and maybe things will work out in the future. Whatever the case, fight for yourself and refuse to allow pain to consume your heart and mind. If you feel you cannot fight, call a friend who will hold your arms up and fight with you. Find someone who will pray with you and seek God on your behalf. Find a friend who refuses to watch you sink and believes the best about you. Encourage yourself until that sense of loss and hopelessness is gone. 

Joyce Meyer said it best in her book The Confident Woman:
You make a decision to let go and go on. You learn form your mistakes. You gather up the fragments and give them to Jesus, and he will make sure that nothing is wasted (John 6:12). You refuse to think about what you have lost, but instead you inventory what you have left and begin using it. Not only can you recover, but you can also be used to help other people recover. Be a living example of a confident woman who always recovers from set backs no matter how difficult or frequent they are. Don’t ever say, “I just cannot go on.” Instead say, “I can do whatever I need to do through Christ who strengthens me. I will never quit, because God is on my side.
Do not give up and loose heart. You are not alone. Pain will not last a lifetime. You can move on one step at a time. Start reminding yourself of who you are in Christ and how much he loves you. Regain your love for yourself. Do things to bless others in your community; I always feel better giving to others rather than being focused on myself. Learn from your mistakes and learn who you are so that you don’t fall into the same situation as you did last time. Learn to love yourself and know who you are for YOU (and no one else). Do not make the choice to discover who you are so you can “feel” whole and enter a relationship. When you know who you are, you are not easily shaken or coerced. The real man for you will not try to quench who you are to boost his own self-esteem.

Tweet by @ChristineCaine: The more secure you are in Christ the more secure people around you become. Insecurity breeds insecurity, comparison & competition. Be secure! If the man pursing you is competing with you, let him go. A confident man will not compete with the woman he is in a relationship with. This goes for women too. If you are competing with your man, ask yourself why.

I am learning that true joy is not in being pursued or having a boyfriend, true joy comes when you live your life devoted to Christ. Being devoted to Christ does not mean you will not make mistakes, it simply means, you want to live your life for him. Living for Christ does not make you exempt from hurt and pain, life happens. Take heart and know He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24). Trusting that God’s love really does cover a multitude of sin. Trusting that your sin is as far as the east is from the west. Believe that you can help other people who feel: lost, lonely, afraid, unseen, and unheard. You matter and your story matters.
Spread the love people. Our life is far from over. It is just beginning.
xoxo

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P.S.

Let me just say, there are some outstanding men out there and mommas/fathers who are raising their sons right. So just because you had a bad break up doesn’t mean all guys are bad or that all guys are the same. Let’s face it, we all have to grow up and sometimes guys make stupid mistakes. If you break up with “so-and-so” let him go and start the process of forgiving him. Your bitterness is not hindering him from moving on. Hopefully, he too, will learn from his mistakes and decide to make a change.

Not So Ordinary Dreamers- Ryan Cirkles

I decided to interview a few of my friends about who they are and their dreams. My first dreamer that I will be featuring is a great friend, Ryan Cirkles. 

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What were your childhood dreams for your adult life?

It would be easier to give a list of things I didn’t dream of becoming.  In my formative years I cycled through desires of being a professional in just about every part of the sports world.  My formative years would prove to be inadequate in their production, leaving me far too small to continue in this path.  Adolescence would see me delve into passions including, but not limited to, roller coaster design, the culinary arts, and crime scene detective.

Now that you are an adult, are you childhood dreams close to your life now? What do you do professionally? Or are you a Student?

I’m not sure my life could be further from what I dreamed.  I am not a star in any sense.  You won’t see me on ESPN any time soon.  I don’t solve crimes. (At least, not as my day job.  I’m pretty impressive when it comes to detective shows on Netflix).

Am I bummed?  Not a bit.  Life has a way of leading you to something that matters.  When I truly surrendered to Jesus as Lord, He showed me that a life given to others was far more satisfying.  He would know.  I’m in full-time ministry and plan to be, in some capacity, for the rest of my life.

What are you passionate about?

I love seeing people encounter the heart of the Father God.  My entire life my dreams, my focus, and my perspective – changed when I first heard the words, “I believe in you.”  That love cannot be stopped.  A person shown that love is empowered beyond rational thought.

The love of the Father says, “Nothing you can do can change what I know about you and nothing I know about you can change what I still see in you.” I will give my life to propagate this love to every person, place, or space that I have the privilege of knowing.

Are there any particular causes or issues you desire to or currently advocate for?

I want all people to come to know the Father’s love.  I believe that one of the most effective ways is for people to know the love of A father.  I long to see all spiritual and natural orphans find a family.  In whatever way I can, whether through prayer, finances, taking part in adoption personally, or as Jesus opens opportunities for personal involvement in these areas, I will give my life to adoption because I believe it is the Father’s plan.

Is it hard to keep believing in your dream when you don’t see any results?

A dream, unfortunately, is ultimately birthed out of a desired end.  It can take us a while to realize that the real enjoyment is in the means to that end. Those means take a lot of trust.  In our minds we don’t see results, but the only result that we would recognize is the finished product.

God drops a dream into a person’s heart.  He shows us a glimpse.  He uploads his passion and compassion for this idea, project, or Kingdom reality into us.  He shows us the end, but we assume that this sneak peak IS the dream.  In reality, He’s building and accomplishing the dream in us daily.  He holds the blueprints.  We only saw the artist’s rendering of the finished copy.

This is why we write down the end goal.  We make the vision plain.  We write every note that he whispers about that dream as time goes by.  We’ll see as we look back at these steps and moments that there was NEVER a time that He wasn’t working on our behalf.  We’ll learn that, just as it was His dream to begin with, it was His dream to work in us, not ours to build alone.

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Describe the moment you knew without a shadow of a doubt that this (whatever your “this” is)  was what you were born to do.

God had really been taking me on a journey through the idea and identity of sonship in my first year as a student at Texas Bible Institute.  He had so affirmed me as His son.  I knew that He would always be everything I would need. I felt safe.  I was taken care of.  I could not step out of His love.  I could not change what Jesus had done. I was at an event, surrounded by 2 or 3 young men that I had really grown to love and believe in.  We were worshiping and as I looked at them I believe I heard the Holy Spirit speak clearly, “You will make copies.”  I would love to say that in an act of great obedience that I high-tailed it to the nearest Kinko’s, but my fervor was still growing.

This was a good thing because, as it turned out, God wasn’t wanting me to make copies in a literal since.  He began to show me that this identity I’d grown so strong in was His heart for everyone.  He wanted me to duplicate this in others.  I would give them the truth of sonship and, as a result, I would learn to be a Father.

What does it mean for you to intentionally live your life for Christ?

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.(Philippians 3:1-3 NLT)”

It is important to note, when you have decided to surrender your life to Christ, that your life is no longer of earthly import. This should not cause sorrow.  It is not that a person’s life no longer matters.  On the contrary, the effect of that life has increased in innumerable measure.  That life has been ridden of vane, shallow meaning and has been opened to eternal purpose.  How does this relate to daily life?

“14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us.[c] Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.[d] 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.(2 Corinthians 5:14-16 NLT)”

Christ has been revealed to me.  Everything has changed.  I know that there is more now.  It is my job to allow the Holy Spirit to continually point all I do and every person I see to Jesus.  Everything is now spiritual in some context.  This isn’t an extra burden to add to our mental checklist.  It isn’t our responsibility. It is the privilege that Jesus Himself invites us into.  It is His work.  He asks us to join in and see miracles on a DAILY basis, “not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit.(Zechariah 4:6)

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ryan CirklesRyan has been faithfully serving in church ministry for 12 years. Ryan is a worship leader and operations manager at Believers World Outreach Church in Katy, Texas, as well as an aspiring Netflix sleuth, citing BBC’s Sherlock as the bulk of his experience in the field.  He has dedicated his life to seeing people come to know the love of the Father God that he has so gratefully received himself. He also has a strong desire to visit Iceland.  Who wouldn’t?

Follow Ryan on Twitter and Instagram: @cirkles

Everyone has dreams. What are yours? Comment below!

Beauty In A Broken Shoe

Somehow breaking my shoe, broke something inside of me.

[God speaks to me in the oddest ways so just keep reading]

As weird as that sounds, my last blog revealed what I’ve been struggling with, and I’ve been dead set on showing up in my life. I’ve been set on being present and not shrinking back when I make a mistake. I’ve been set on showing myself mercy instead of criticism. I’ve been set on choosing joy instead of wallowing in sadness. I’ve been learning that comparison will fail me every time. However,the one thing I’ve been trying to learn forever, is how to except and believe that I am beautiful. I wanted to really see it all the time. I wanted to see what people see in me.

Can I tell you something?

My idea of beauty is not what true beauty is. I’ve felt like beauty equates to women who seem to have their “hair done, nails done, and everything did” I am not that girl. While I enjoy dressing cute, I don’t wear heels all the time. I would rather wear flats. I’m not the chick that needs to be perfectly put together every time I step foot out of my house. I’ve considered myself the “girl next door” in looks. Not drop dead gorgeous but good looking. Still, in spite of feeling beautiful when people tell me or looking in the mirror and thinking, “okay today you look alright”, I had yet to get it for myself. Don’t get me wrong people, I’ve been working on this area of my life. It has not been neglected. I have a plethora of Christian books about beauty and purity to supply a whole youth ministry. Somehow I still missed the point.

Today, I was almost at my job (I have to walk about .25 miles to my actual office from my car) and I hear a tearing noise. My worst fear was happening. I stopped. Looked at my shoe and thought okay it’s fine. I Looked back up, took one more step, and then the strap on my shoe broke. Now I was faced with the problem of walking really weird all the way to my office. My shoes were making that awful scuffing noise and I was trying to hold them together. I tried taping them at my desk and that failed. I managed to get through the day scuffing my way through the office while my shoe was held up by a binder clip.

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Yes, I know, so tacky but I was desperate. Feeling confident about my contraption I decided to walk back to my car with my binder clip shoe on. I seemingly fixed the problem right? So why should I worry? I cross the street no problem, than I get to the sidewalk and immediately my shoe falls apart again. By now, This is when the light bulbs start going off in my head,
I realized that I could work really hard to hold something together and scuff my way through it. I could walk around trying to blend in and make sure no one knew my shoe was falling apart. Or I could just take my shoes off and stop pretending that they aren’t broken.

When I took my physical shoes off, my mental shoes and blinders came off too. All the sudden the way I wanted to feel about my value and worth was clear because I changed my perspective. I wasn’t worried about being put together. I wasn’t comparing myself to those with their shoes on or how nice or expensive they were. I was enjoying my freedom. My feet were touching the unsanitary heat-filled concrete. And with every step on the .25 mile walk to my car, a little piece of self-doubt vanished. I got home looked at myself in the mirror and I could finally see what everyone else sees.

BEAUTY.

Hopefully it won’t take you breaking your shoes to get a breakthrough like I did! I have no clue how these revelations come to me and bring me freedom but God knows how to speak to me.

Here’s a little poem I wrote about beauty:

Beauty beauty
I want to be you
Easily desired
And easily pursued
They told me what your made of
And I’m buying all the ingredients
But when I dress up like you
I don’t get the same results
You get love
I get side hugs
Measuring up to you and Proverbs 31 is much too hard
I’m not sure all I am is all of what you are
Then again maybe I’ve been given the wrong ingredients
I got my recipe from magazines,TV, men, and music
They have got you all wrong
You are strong
You are brave
You are wise
You are lovely
Yet, somehow you were belittled to looks only
If beauty was just looks, we would be in trouble
There would be no room for
Intellect
Character
And integrity
All of which encompass beauty
A Beauty that exists everywhere
A Beauty that is seen
A Beauty that is heard
A Beauty that is adored
A Beauty that is roared from the smallest soul to the oldest
I am beauty and so are you
Roar Beauty Roar

 
XOXO
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The Great Divide: How Do We Build A Bridge?

 

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I have spent the past two weeks pretty angry and disappointed. I would be lying if I told you the things going on in Ferguson did not affect me in someway. I have read a lot of blog posts coming from different angles, I have researched and watched lectures from professionals on the subject of racial reconciliation, and I have had open conversations with some of my Caucasian friends. I have prayed and cried about this situation in Ferguson and the national issue of racism. Wether we like to admit it or not, racism still exists. Not all white people are racist, it would be very ignorant to make such a broad assumption and accusation.

 Privilege refers to the idea that in human society, some groups benefit from unearned, largely-unacknowledged advantages that increase their power relative to that of others, thereby perpetuating social inequality

Some, Caucasian people may not have viewed themselves privileged or that they are afforded certain opportunities based on the color of their skin. Honestly, what I have gathered from conversations with my white friends, is that sometimes they don’t think about being a “White privileged american”. When you are a majority you may not have the needs of the minority on the forefront of your mind.

My parents did not teach me to fear white people, some of my closest friends are white. I did not begin to feel a little fear until Ferguson happened. Seeing all the hate out there and passive aggressive racism caused me to wonder who was around me that thought of me that way because of my color? Were there people in my life that harbored hate like that? People that felt I was an exception to “those black people” when in fact the “those people” are MY people. I became suspicious of white people-waiting for someone to change on me. I got concerned for my older brother who is over 6 ft. tall and a broad built black male. He has a heart of gold but people wouldn’t be able to tell that if they looked at him. They could think he is a thug instead of a successful college graduate. What if he wears a hoddie or a big shirt on his days off work? Will they suspect him of mischief?

I get that people who are not minorities may not understand this perspective. I am not asking for understanding as much as I am pleading for you to listen. That is it.

I could focus on dissecting all of the hateful postings and blogs I have seen but that would be counter productive because hateful people are everywhere and I encounter them everyday. That will not go away. I had to let myself research and come to a place of peace and balance about the situation in Ferguson along with the killings of other unarmed black men, as well as, the issue of institutionalized racism. There are a lot of moving parts in this discussion and I may elaborate more in a different post.

What I really want to discuss is the racial divide in the church. I know I am about to discuss a “hush hush” matter but more of us need to talk about it. People must understand that the history of African-American culture is rooted in oppression. Although we would like to think that we have made a lot of progress, we have to an extent, there is still a lot to be done. We must be willing to openly talk about race and racial issues in order to really move forward. There is an elephant in the room- like it or not and until we stop passing over it or walking by it silently, we will not see change. We will be back in this spot in a few years.The comments I have seen on the internet let me know that racism is not dead, in fact, it just took on a new form. Nowadays, talking about race makes people tense and everyone comes to the table with their own inhibitions and preconceived ideas of what the other person plans to say. So instead of having hard conversations and breaking down racial divide, we don’t at all. A lack of communication makes the divide grow and before we know it we have accepted passive aggressive racism. I believe the African-American community wants people to listen.

Matt Chandler says this best: “What is so deceptive about white privilege is that it is different from blatant racism or bias. A privileged person’s heart may be free from racist thoughts or biased attitudes, but may still fail to see how the very privilege afforded to him or her shapes how he or she interprets and understands the situations and circumstances of people without privilege.”

We have allowed the media to feed into a racial divide. We would all be gravely missing the point if it was not evident that we need to have racial reconciliation in the church. It needs to happen. When was the last time you looked around your church and wondered why everyone else looked like you? This goes both ways, for predominately black churches and white churches. “Ninety percent of African-American Christians worship in all-black churches. Ninety percent of white American Christians worship in all-white churches,” said Chris Rice, coauthor of More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel. “…Years since the incredible victories of the civil rights movement, we continue to live in the trajectory of racial fragmentation. The biggest problem is that we don’t see that as a problem.” I think the shooting of Michael Brown brought up deeper seething issues about race. Any group that experiences systemic oppression for a time will come to a point to where they can tolerate it no more. It takes work on all sides to dismantle institutionalized racism. If you are content with your multicultural workshops at your job, fine, but it goes far beyond that. We must be willing to talk and learn about one another in order to break down barriers.

Linda Brown (AP Photo)
                      Linda Brown (AP Photo)

Tell me this, if you have no black friends ( I am not talking about people you are associated with and hang out with every now and then) then where do you get your ideas and perceptions about black people? Do you make them up? Are they from the media? We cannot grow and move forward without having hard conversations and uniting together to see change. There are several people uniting to see change happen and guess what? They are not all black. People of all races are uniting together to see change happen. I have noticed that it is much harder to organize change and promote change in the church. Why is this true? I did not experience real overt racism until I went to a CHRISTIAN college. It was evident that some people at my school only knew about black people from TV or the people they saw in the hall at school. Why are the Christians who support racial reconciliation and recognize that we have some real deep racial wounds and issues to deal with, harshly critized by the Christian comminuty? Do you have to be a liberal to agree that human life matters? To believe that something must be done about the clear racial divides in our nation? Are we denying that “white flight” and racism still exist? Researchers will tell you that it still exists. What needs to be said for people to WAKE UP and STAND UP and say NO MORE? If I read the Bible correctly, as Christians, we are brothers and sisters in Christ right? If we are, maybe we should start acting like it. Also, the fact that every Christian who speaks out about racism and Mike Brown, has to give a laundry list of disclaimers so that some of their Christian friends will know that they “believe in the police” & “don’t agree with looting”, so they don’t have to deal with a backlash of comments, is awful. As a Christian and African-American seeing posts from some of my Caucasian brothers and sisters is disheartening. We don’t have to agree for you to show compassion on a mourning community and parents that had to bury their son too soon. I get everyone has their beliefs but dismissing people’s pain and justifying a teen being shot over 6 times, because of an alleged theft, even though he reached a point of surrender, is cruel. I am posing a lot of questions because I don’t have all the answers.  I want us to think about these issues together.

How can we unite together as a church? How can we break the walls of racial segregation in our local church? Let’s start opening up this conversation. Honestly until we are able to have healthy productive conversations where neither side is predicting what the other will say, maybe we can move forward. Until we come to the table and lay our swords and daggers down, nothing will change. Remember the church has always been in the thick of controversy. This situation should not be any different. I want to work with others that desire to see change in our communities and churches. I want us to unite together instead of focusing on tearing each other apart. I have found that social media makes it way to easy to let our typed our words be used as daggers to hurt one another. Can we try for once to evaluate our typed words as well as the ones spoken? They are just as powerful. I believe we will have to account for them too.

 (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

There are several things the African-American community is doing to actively better our communities around the U.S. and I pray these initiatives last and we see true change in my generation and the ones behind me. Despite having disadvantages that does not condone crime nor does it give people the right to murder over petty crime. This is a pivotal time for the African-American’s to see change in their communities and push for a well-balanced local government. What Antonio French is doing with #HealSTL and registering young people to vote is huge. I hope this situation has encouraged young people to find their voice and to understand that their voice matters and their lives matter. I hope this situation has awakened black youth and that they realize their true value to society. I believe in black youth. 

Here is what I plan to do:

  • Join with other churches who will assist in providing relief and aid to the community/churches of Ferguson
  • Join a local organization that focuses on the empowerment/education of African-Americans in the community
  • Mentor African American Youth
  • Join in conversation with churches and individuals about racial reconciliation and be apart of building a bridge
  • Keep the conversation going: Silence will not bring about change

Growing up I did not focus on racial differences. I was taught to love people, all people. Even when injustice occurred around me, I was taught to stand strong. I love different cultures. My friends are very diverse. I love having friends of different cultures. There is so much I learn from our open conversations. If more people were open to talking, less hatred would exist today. Until you are open to talking to me about my culture and heritage in a kind manner, please do not expect me to be happy when I see comments that are clearly racist. It is hurtful and disappointing. I have cried enough over the senseless and hateful comments people have made about the black community. So I plead with you, come to the table ready to listen. I too am coming to the table with an open heart and an open mind.

I love being Black. I love my natural hair. I love my community. I am educated and I have a successful career. I vote and pay my taxes. I think we have some work and growing to do as a people but I will play a part in changing the narrative that has been written for African-American’s in the US. If you are reading this and you are working to bring reconciliation amongst your church, let’s talk together. I do not have all the answers but I want to hear from other people and church leaders actively seeking to unite their congregations.

Before leaving this blog post please watch this video:

 

Resources and articles I found helpful:

White Brother Shot Black Man

Kristen Howerton

Gospel Coalition

Matt Chandler 

Jennie Allen- To My White People

How To Deal With Racist Reactions to Ferguson

IS IT “GOODBYE EVANGELICALISM” OR “WE JOIN YOU IN YOUR SUFFERING”?

A Cop’s take on Ferguson

 

What’s Mom Got To Do With It?

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In one of my previous blog posts I touched on my relationship with my mom. Feel free to read that one first and then come back to this post.

I have realized that Mom has to do with my whole life.

  1. Mom laid down pursuing her dreams to awaken the dreamer in me.
  2. Mom made $10,000 her first year as a single mother.
  3. Mom worked part-time at Ann Taylor to support us while building her life-coaching business.
  4. Mom served others.
  5. Mom served me when I was so unworthy of her generosity.
  6. Mom stayed strong when I was in pain.
  7. Mom told me that I would influence this generation so many times that I actually believe her now.
  8. Mom taught me life lessons I’ll never forget.
  9. Mom never judged me and always welcomed me home with open arms when I made mistakes.
  10. As an adult, Mom taught me to think on my own and make informed decisions.
  11. Mom let me grow up and she let me have space to learn on my own.
  12. Mom always stayed close by.
  13. Mom is beautiful and taught me to love my beautiful brown face and hair. She would look me in the eyes and say, “You are a beautiful brown girl and I love you.”
  14. Mom affirmed me, even when I went through a phase where I was convinced she did not love me.
  15. Mom cheers me on and encourages me. My favorite quotes from her are: “You are Faitth with two t’s because you are unique and no one can be you” “Go for it my little trailblazer” “I love you princess” “My little fireball”
Yeah, she ran an half-marathon or maybe it was a full marathon...either way she ran a long distance.
Yeah, she ran an half-marathon or maybe it was a full marathon…either way she ran a long distance.

My mom would always correct me when needed but she was careful not to crush “my spirit.” I have a strong personality. I am opinionated, I talk a lot, I am animated and dramatic, I am passionate, there is not an introverted aspect to my personality at all, and I talk to strangers. I am the child that calls home to tell my mom about my passion for missions and at 20 years old I am leading a trip to Thailand with a bunch of college kids. I am the child that rides on an elephants neck in Thailand and feels alive, I am the child that said “I am not a girly girl” and kept up with everything my brother did, I am the child that would harbor sins of the heart and not overt disobedience. I am the child that made her get on her knees and pray a lot, I hurt her feelings several times, I made her cry several times, and I was a whole lot to handle. Somehow, she never spoke negatively about me. In fact, she told me how much she loved my bubbly personality and the fact that I could make the whole family laugh till they cried. She let me sing to my hearts content and encouraged me to write songs and pursue my love for music. If I was being disrespectful she would say, “Faitth you are very respectful.” She wasn’t saying it sarcastically either, she would call out greatness and eventually (sometimes years later) see the fruit of those confessions. My mom knew she was raising leaders. She would often pray over my brother and I “God don’t promote them to a place their character can’t keep them.” Her prayer was that our character would always be developed first before we were promoted to any position. This has remained her prayer and she has seen it answered time and time again.

When developing a relationship with my brother and I as adults, she completely switched gears from mommy to friend and guidance counselor. She still does mommy-like things but she lets me have freedom. I moved in with my mom after college and it was a little rough at first but my brother told me to stick it out. He literally had to tell me how good it was for me to have this time with my mom, I felt he was fooling me because he had roommates and that seemed more appealing. In the beginning I was counting down till our lease was up so I could move out. Well 2 and a half years later, we are still living together. Our only request to each other is to keep one another posted on our whereabouts, that’s it. She set up no rules for me- we are roommates. I pay my half and she pays hers. She will give suggestions laced with prayer and guidance; she has learned how to influence me as an adult. She is sneaky but it works.

My mom went skydiving with friends while I was in college.
My mom went skydiving with friends…isn’t she cute?

 We are so opposite. I will run around and stay busy at all times. My mom will stay home and read books and throw in occasional socialization. She reads probably one book a week. She is brilliant people. I mean brilliant. She is my opposite but I love it. I love introverts so much. It has taken me a while to understand you people but now I want to be your friend. Obviously it’s not surprising that half of my close friends are introverts. My mom is so calm that I get frazzled when I am surrounded by people that are easily stressed. She would always say “don’t sweat the small stuff Faitth.” She has learned all about who I am from living with me as an adult. She has learned that sometimes I want affection, other times I don’t want to be bothered at all (this is my “do not talk to me at all” mood), I want her to listen to my ranting social justice discussions(She is so gracious- I have a lot of these moments), I want us to watch a show together, I want to sleep in her bed because I had a hard day and I want her near by. She is always available. She lives her life like that for other people as well.

If I go through a break up I can expect ice cream girl talk at Chick-Fil-A. If I go on a road trip and I am tired she will talk to me most of the way. Sometimes she is just on the phone and we aren’t saying anything. She has prayer meetings with me and my friends( Jessica you know what that is all about! lol). She makes my friends her daughters. In fact my best friend Abby and my mom text each other, Ha. It is the funniest thing ever. She is present and her presence gives me confidence. So mom you should write a book on parenting because being an African-American homeschool mother with her Masters Degree in Christian counseling, creating your own high school transcripts for your homeschooled kids that went onto graduate from college and begin successful careers. Raising two children that adore you- is pretty rare these days. People need your voice.

Did you know my mom is a life coach, speaker, and author? :)
Did you know my mom is a life coach, speaker, and author? 🙂

I could go on and on about how my mother’s influence has changed my life. In the teenage years a lot of times girls disconnect with their mothers because we see things about our mom’s that we don’t want to be. Little do we know, years later we will take on some of those character traits that we loathed (Trust me mom’s you will get a laugh when this happens). We will realize that we need you and holding you at bay is not productive. Give us time mom’s. We will come around.

XOXO

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Francine Pierson: facebook and website

 

What Defines me?

 I’ve read plenty of books dating and read too many blogs on dating, dressing modest, and purity rings. There are so many perspectives and for a young Christian woman and these opinions can be overwhelming. The one thing I have rested on is that loving Jesus gives me fulfillment.

When I get anxious about being single I have realized one thing:

My feelings are fleeting and cannot be trusted. 

Some days I feel like I can change the world
Some days I wonder why I am single
Somedays I compare my life with others
Some days I feel disconnected from some of my peers
Somedays I am full of passion and drive

What I am learning is, my feelings will change and somedays betray me and somedays tear me away from my destiny. If I buy into the lie that my dreams or goals can’t happen unless I am married then I what am I really living for? Who am I living for-my imaginary husband?

I ask myself often, “Can I really trust Jesus and his plan? Can I just do that?” Someday’s it is challenging especially when you are sitting at yet another wedding or bridal shower but I have quickly realized that I love my life and I am so blessed. I am right where I need to be and although, it is not where I thought I would be; I am thankful for where I am right now. I am so enriched by the people that make everyday better.

Let’s just face it, I am having so much fun.

 

You my friend are so dear and have made life so fun.
You my friend are so dear and have made life so fun.
Bachelorette Party for Amy!
Bachelorette Party for Amy!

 

Culture says I should be defined by my relationship status and I beg to differ.

Some of the most precious souls on earth. I love every second with them.
Some of the most precious souls on earth. I love every second with them.
Coffee times.
Coffee times.

I think that instead of debating whether or not getting married before you’re 23 or staying single till 25 is better, we just celebrate each other. Instead of comparing our journey’s lets learn from each other. Some people get married early, some people get married late, some people have kids, some people don’t, some people stay single because they WANT to. Everyone’s path is different. There is no right or wrong.

Life gets tough but one thing I have learned is living in community is life giving. My relationships with my family, my married friends, my single friends, and mentors enriches my life.

Every stage of life is valuable and so priceless.

She is my biggest cheerleader and friend. She believes I can do anything and I believe her.
She is my biggest cheerleader and friend. She believes I can do anything and tells me everyday. I am a dreamer because of her faith in me.
Everyone needs people to laugh with and lay on the grass at Discovery green.
Everyone needs people to laugh with and lay on the grass at Discovery green.
The greatest story of redemption and Christ's love is shown through the way Arnie and Jenna Cazares love each other. Getting to be apart of their wedding was such an honor.
The greatest story of redemption and Christ’s love is shown through the way Arnie and Jenna Cazares love each other. Getting to be apart of their wedding was such an honor.
These two. They keep me laughing.
These two. They keep me laughing.
Buddies. Not sure why people confused us for sisters but you all really made college amusing!
Buddies. Not sure why people confused us for sisters but you all really made college memorable.
My favorite engaged couple.
My favorite engaged couple.
My High School lifegroup- these ladies are so fun and keep me on my toes!
My High School lifegroup- these ladies are so fun and keep me on my toes!

 

I love that I can keep it real with you, laugh often, and  you are always a listening ear. <3
I love that I can keep it real with you, laugh often, and you are always a listening ear. ❤
Below is the definition of single.
 
sin·gle
adjective
1.only one; not one of several.
 
Here are the synonyms:
alone, companionless, lone, lonely, lonesome, solitary,unaccompanied.
None of that sounds interesting, exciting, or fun.
I think it’s time we changed our view of
happiness.
Let’s be honest,
life will not be perfect when you get married.
You can’t base your happiness on a person.
Learning how to be truly happy with yourself
and who you are is a gift.
Many people are still trying to figure that out.
Sitting on the lawn care-free. Those were the days. College was good to me.
Sitting on the lawn care-free. Those were the days. College was good to me.

 

I love making new friends. This picture is from a few years ago, I just met these people and starting taking pictures with them!
I love making new friends. This picture is from a few years ago, I just met these people and starting taking pictures with them!
Paid for my first all inclusive vacation to Cancun a year ago and as you can tell, I was "soaking up the sun." Can't wait for my next vacay.
Paid for my first all inclusive vacation to Cancun a year ago and as you can tell, I was “soaking up the sun.” Can’t wait for my next vacay.
This guy. I love my Dad.
This guy. I love my Dad.

Enjoy life.

Laugh often.

Dream Big.

Live out those dreams.

And Like My brother says, “Just love Jesus.”

Somehow we think that loving Jesus won’t be enough because

we want a relationship with someone “in the flesh.”

No matter how hard we try

NO ONE 

can fill the God shaped hole we were all born with.

Only God can.

Until we understand that

nothing and no one will satisfy those desires.

 

My ACE. Best brother ever.
My ACE. Best brother ever.
I've gotten to travel the world just a little and I am not done yet. #Rwanda
I’ve gotten to travel the world just a little and I am not done yet. #Rwanda
Doesn't Logan look lovely? Such a precious wedding. Childhood friends ;)
Doesn’t Logan look lovely? Such a precious wedding. Childhood friends 😉
My first time hiking in the wilderness, senior year of college.
My first time hiking in the wilderness, senior year of college.

 

This is when LizBeth got hitched;)
This is when LizBeth got hitched;)
These two keep me laughing with our group text messages and random conversations. I love living life with you two.
These two keep me laughing with our group text messages and random conversations. I love living life with you two.

 

Of course these pictures represent a fraction of the people that enrich my life but they make life fun. These people strengthen me, encourage me, and laugh with me. Guess what, some of them are married, single, dating, or engaged, sharing life with them brings me joy.

So when your feelings try to take over and put you down, remember that every day we GET to enjoy this life we have been given and that is worth living for.

 

XOXO

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P.S.

I am working on launching Hannah’s Hope that non-profit I told you all about. Stay tuned for more details. #KeepDreaming #AwakenTheDreamer