Where There’s Smoke…

Thank God for the smoke.

When I look back on my dating life there was a lot of smoke I ignored. I might as well have been fanning the flames. Even when things caught on fire, I still looked the other way.

Oftentimes red flags come early. Flags don’t have to be serious things. Red flags are any reasonable thing that you know won’t work for you.

While at a singles event a few months ago, we were asked to tell someone our non-negotiables. I heard everything from liars to cheaters to kids. Yes kids. That was mine…

Now there are others but that was the first thing that came to mind. You have to decide what your non-negotiables are and stop negotiating.

As we get older it becomes easier to relax our expectations just to be with someone. But what if relaxing your expectations puts you in bad company or situations you can’t reverse…

A wise woman once said “take your time, do it right.” I’m not talking about sex, I’m talking about choosing. You’ve waited this long (I think I’m ministering to myself) and now you have the opportunity to make a good choice. Don’t throw it all away.

Pay attention to the flags. It’ll save you lots of time and heartache.

Happy Waiting!

You’re Not As Strong As You Look

While debriefing with my personal trainer he said, “you’re not as strong as you look.” His voice trembled a little when he said it. It seemed, he was trying not to hurt my feelings.

He didn’t.

Although I knew he was talking about my physical strength, deep down inside I knew I needed to work on my mental strength, my thought-life.

My strength only goes so far and then fear checks in. One of the reasons why I started personal training was to have someone there to push me past my personal limits. If it were up to me, I’d do the same exercises over and over again, I wouldn’t increase the weight knowing I could go harder and I’d go home and wonder why I wasn’t getting results. My strength mentally was only taking me so far.

This mental block would keep me from doing a lot of things. God has given me so many great ideas over the years. And now, since I haven’t acted on them, I see them on TV and it’s devastating. I had those ideas 10 years ago and never did anything about it mostly because I was afraid of the work or afraid of failure. There are many things I have wanted to do and try but I’d consistently talk myself out of doing or trying any of it.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a push to strengthen my thought-life. To be more in control of my thinking. To be more intentional about what I watch, and what I listen to….even what I say.

I’ve done this work before but lately I’ve felt myself getting off track. And now that I’m going into a new season, this work is more important than ever.

Are you like me? Are you trying to get control of your thought-life?

Oftentimes what we think colors what we see. Our minds are a powerful playing field and if we don’t get control over our thoughts, everything in life will become more challenging, be less fulfilling or we’ll miss out on great opportunities.

We, yep you and me, have to decide to think about good things and to have faith and trust God always. We also have to check fear at the door. If we get control over our thoughts, He will change our lives! It’s a lot of work but we can do it – together.

So, are you down? Can I count on you to do this work with me? Let’s be stronger mentally, physically, and spiritually and let’s watch as God does his BEST work in us!

Happy Waiting!

The Bull In My Backyard

Every now and then I’ll have very vivid dreams. One night in particular, I dreamt there was a bull in my backyard. I remember waking, walking to the bathroom and moving the curtain aside to look out of the window. The first thing I saw was a big black bull in my backyard. It didn’t move, it just stared up at me.

Not sure what to make of it, I retreated to my room. Soon after, the bull began charging into my house. I called the police. While I’m not sure what I thought they would do, I called them anyway and shortly after the call I woke up.

The following morning, still startled by the dream (read nightmare) I searched the phrase “bull in my backyard. I was surprised to find there is a book called, A Bull in my Backyard and it’s about you (you and me) being the source of our own stress.

Several days during that week I felt like I wasn’t catching any breaks. I actually felt sad – it was a funk I couldn’t shake even though things were fine.

Reading the summary of this book made me realize that yeah, I am the bull(ly) in my own backyard. Constantly comparing or complaining, feeling like life isn’t fair when I’ve been super blessed and not being able to get out of my own way.

I hated that dream but it led me to a revelation. I have to take better care of myself. Not just my physical self but my spiritual and emotional self. I’m going to try to stop comparing (the over analysis that leads to stress) and give myself some grace. More than anything else, I’m going to move forward and get out of my own way.

Are you the bull(ly) in your own backyard? Are you being hard on yourself? You’re not alone. We all do it from time to time, many of us do it often. Just breathe and give yourself some grace, vow to treat your mind and spirit better and we can move from being the bullies in our backyards to the conquer and encourager our corners.

Happy Waiting!

Check On Your Strong (Single) Friend

Not long ago there was a Huffington Post article with the title Don’t Forget To Check On Your Strong Friend. After a series of events, this blog post was inspired by that article.

A few weeks ago I was having a really bad week. There were some things that were out of my control and everything was coming at me at the same time.

Within 48 hours of each other, two friends reached out. Both were folks I hadn’t talked to in a while and said I was either on their mind or showed up in a dream. One thing is for sure, that week, I really needed a friend and a reminder that God sees my hurt and will send people to check in on me.

There was a particular day that week that was really hard. I don’t usually let myself cry but in-between both conversations I cried. I mean it was an ugly mess up your makeup kind-of cry.

I’m really good at putting things up on the shelf and leaving them there until I’m ready to deal. But one day, sometimes years later, I’ll break down and cry.

I had a conversation with a friend about what it’s like to be single and not have someone lay eyes on you everyday. There have been times when I’m really going through it and I call 3 friends and no one answers. With no fault on their parts, everyone is busy, what happens when I really need someone and can’t find anyone to share with? People assume that when you’re single, you’re just out living your life when in reality, you could be at home in a puddle of tears.

This is why the title of this post is check on your strong (single) friend. We need to know there’s someone out there thinking about us, praying for us, and checking in on us. Lay eyes on us and make sure we’re ok. Even those of us who are “strong” get weak and could really use a friend.

Happy Waiting.

Prepare

I want to be mentally, physically, and spiritually prepared for what God has for me. I can’t do that in a week or two weeks, a few months or even a year. It takes years and years of preparation.

Yesterday while at church my pastor told us the sermon was going to be about parenting. My first thought was ‘I should’ve stayed home’. I’m not a parent yet and didn’t feel like I needed the information.

Then, I thought about this blog post. I actually started writing it in January and decided to finish it today – mostly because my pastor’s sermon triggered something in me.

So, instead of tuning out the message, I sat up and took notes. One day it’ll be applicable and in the meantime, I’ll have a better idea of what I want my future family life to be like.

I view this time – my time as a single person – as time spent preparing for what’s next. I’d hate to get to the next level and find myself totally unprepared. So I’ll let God do His thing and get out of the way.

Now, preparation isn’t always pretty. It can come with lots of waiting and uncertainty. It can also involve discomfort but wouldn’t you agree it’s worth it? Think about the job, the degree, or the athletic event you prepared for. Didn’t it feel good to show up as your best self? To know you put in work ahead of time?

One thing is for sure, if something doesn’t go well or turn into something long term, I’d hate for the reason to be a lack of preparation on my part. So, I’ll keep learning, growing and stretching until that time comes. Knowing God, they’ll be more stretching, growing and learning after that. I hope you’ll come long for the ride! I’m sure God has some work He’s trying to do in you – let Him – so you can show up fully prepared and better than ever!

Happy Waiting!

Why I Took a 6 Month Break From Dating

While dating someone last year I fasted and prayed about the relationship that was developing. In many ways he seemed like the perfect guy but I didn’t feel peace in my spirit about it even though I really wanted to.

So I fasted.

One day while on my way into church, during the fast, I said to myself, ” I don’t know how to date.” I’ve never been the kind of girl who dates multiple guys. One guy at a time is more than enough for me. I’d much rather be with one guy and in a relationship. Dating sucks.

While in the bathroom at church I heard a woman crying. I asked if I could give her a hug and we talked a bit. She told me about her husband and how he had passed away years ago. She also told me about someone she had started dating recently and that she realized she didn’t know how to date. She literally said, “I don’t know how to date”.

I was shocked.

That was the SAME thing I said to myself as I walked into church. While sharing that I thought something similar walking into church she said “God told me to buy these books, I think I’m supposed to give one to you.”

The following Sunday, we met at church and she gave me the book. As I sat in church waiting for the service to start I began reading. Three to four pages in it said to commit to a six month break from dating to focus on myself and my relationship with God.

I wanted to throw the book out of the window. What?! 6 months?! Why? How Jesus? Again – I had taken a 3 month break the year before. The book also had different activities at the end of each chapter.

While I was reluctant at first, I did it. I took a 6 month break and here’s what I learned.

1. Make Room

I’m really good at staying busy. I was an opportunity addict. Something would come across my email and I’d apply even if I knew I was already overwhelmed. I was filling the time just in case there was nothing in the future to fill the time. So my yes’ started to become nos and I stared reclaiming my time. There really wasn’t room for anything else. I had to purposefully and intentionally make room.

2. Get Your House in Order

I bought my house and with the hustle and bustle of life, along with a new job, grad school and other opportunities I was so exhausted I couldn’t even hang a picture on the wall. Getting my actual house in order was something I had to do. I also committed to joining and joined a new church. I had been attending for a little over a year and it was time. On the last day of the dating break, I received the right hand of fellowship at a new church. I had reached a level of spiritual maturity that required a different kind of preaching, worship, and praise.

3. Self-Care

Once I finished my degree, I began intentionally engaging in self-care. I began working out more often, getting back to my healthy eating routine and spent more time doing the things I loved with the people I loved. I became more intentional about personal boundaries at work and removed myself from troublesome situations. Above all else, I’ve been praying more and praising more and more frequently. Joy doesn’t seem so out of reach anymore.

4. I Stopped Caring So Much

A good friend of mine use to say “If everyone cared as much as you do…the world would be a better place.” Truth is I can be a bit of a perfectionist. Deep down I believed if I was perfect nothing would go wrong but I have 1,000,000 examples of how untrue that is! I learned it’s ok to be imperfect and that life will still go on.

5. I Learned How to Have (More) Fun

Okay so I had some fun over the last few years but I didn’t allow too much fun. Why? Because I had to write a paper, read an article, write a lesson plan, post to blackboard… now, weekends aren’t catch up sessions with books and papers, it’s fun! I didn’t know how much I missed it.

6. I Realized What Was Important

Family and friends are important. Spending time doing the things I love with the people I love is important. Jobs come and go, yesterday is not like today but each day is a gift and should be treated as such. Yesterday I walked into a classroom to talk to a teacher and she said “what’s going on with you? You look so happy!.” I was and nothing in particular had happened to spark that. I had just reached a point of contentment with myself and the things around me.

Ultimately I think this journey was about becoming what I wanted to attract and intentionally investing in me. There’s no use looking for something or someone who is the complete opposite of who you are. If I’m honest, I spent a lot of time looking for the qualities I lacked in the guys I dated. That was wrong. I had to learn, know, and be true to myself and become the woman God wanted me to be. Now, not all of this happened in 6 months, it’s definitely a process but I’m farther along than I’ve ever been.

Through this process God wanted to restore me, to teach me a few lessons, and to return me better than ever! Now, I’m not perfect (no where near it) but one thing is for sure, I’m better now than I’ve ever been. I’m expecting God’s greatness real soon. But in the meantime…

Happy Waiting!

Reroute

Don’t be afraid to start over.

I got lost for the 2nd time a few weeks ago while driving to a new(er) gym. I arrived at the same street I did the first time but with a better attitude. I knew I wasn’t far away and that checking the directions would get me there with time to spare.

I don’t know how many times God has let me drive to a dead end to get me to turn back to Him and ask for direction.

He does it a lot. Constantly charging me to do and be better and to turn around and try again. It’s frustrating but it’s all for my good.

One thing is for sure, I know I’m close and every dead end, every change in direction and every detour is getting me closer to where God wants me to be.

I used to throw fits in the car when I’d get lost and sometimes, I’d give up. Now, I just keep on driving knowing that eventually, I’ll get there.

You can get there too. Wherever your there may be. Promise me you won’t give up and that as life twists, turns, and throws you for a loop, that you’ll keep on going, knowing that God’s best is waiting for you!

Happy Waiting!