The BEAUTY of Grace!!

Not to sound “religious” in any kind of way but isn’t Grace beautiful? We live each day, each moment, each second where most of us, never stop to consider or enjoy the beauty of live and living, let along GRACE. What is Grace, as pertaining to God and the scripture? Contrary to popular belief, Grace and Mercy are definitely sister’s but different. Grace is used in a variety of cases in the bible where it the meaning varies. I want to talk to you today about grace in the facet of “unmerited pardon”.

In the New Testament, the Lord used the word “grace” to represent or define “unmerited pardon“. I’m OVERLY ecstatic today to talk to you guys about this because my family and I are living witnesses of God’s grace, love, mercy and more!

Let me provide you with some history and a written explanation of why I’m ecstatic today about the loving grace of God. Yesterday, my husband and I went to court, along with a few other young men, to go before the judge who will ultimately exonerate my husband and 3 others for a crime they were convicted of in 1995.This is phenomenal being that we all have suffered the implications and the shortfalls that often accompany a recorded felony conviction.

The ‘stigma’ that’s associated with it is devastating. It’s been 18 years since the incident and my husband stated that he thought that he was going to have to spend the rest of life living in the chains of the wrongful and erroneous blemish, until “one day.” “One day”, we received that call and the rest is history.Many of you might know and understand some of the calamities that come with a felony conviction on your record. Just imagine of you are innocent of this conviction and no one believes you? How would you feel about the justice or legal system? Would you have faith in it? Would you believe that is was “just?”

We received a call from the Texas Innocence Project which has devoted its mission to freeing innocently convicted victims, those incarcerated and not. Thankfully, must husband did not serve time in the pen as a result of this, he was sentenced to probation but the effects were non the less devastating. Due to this, he suffered from lack of employment, housing, prejudice and much more!

Of course some might say, “18 years is a long time, why did God make you wait that long for this?” We must know that God’s ways are not our ways. Technically, 18 years is not a long time being that Gods’ creation has been around for thousands, maybe millions of years. The bible states that a day is like a thousand of years to God. This is often hard to understand and perceive to us, fleshly, human beings, but with God, all things ARE possible. It’s “beauty” is indescribable. It’s hard to put it into words. Long story short, this testimony is a real-time example of the greatness and goodness of God’s grace. It’s simply beautiful because God will restore the years of your life that you thought you lost. Only He can do it!! So to Him, my family and I will be forever grateful.

Men and their “Natural Hair” Mindset!

Okay, as you can tell by the title of my post, this is going to be a VERY controversial posting(LOL)!.

I’ve been married for 12 years now(shout out to my hubby:)) and I love him to death.

I meet SO many women who say that their significant other “rejects” their natural hair and aggressively tries to persuade them to “straighten, relax or weave it!” Okay people, this is crazy to say the least. With all of the years that us “black folk” have been in America(an other countries), I think its about time that OUR men accept and embrace us for who God created us to be. This is why I call myself a “revolutionist”. Yes, its revolutionary to go against the mainstream grain by going fully natural, fro and all.

I’ll tell you a little about my natural hair hubby relationship..

When I first went natural, he was the first person to suggest it. After hearing me complain all the time about my relaxed hair, he said, “why won’t you go natural and grow all of your perm off”. I took his advice. I wore box braids for 2 years and then cut off all of my relaxer. Oh boy, he didn’t know what he had gotten himself into. I then started wearing braid-outs. Mind you, my hair was a meddy fro(about 3-4 inches) and it looked very cute in my opinion. I would braid the front and do a braid out on the back(sorry no pics guys).

When I would try to do any other style, he would totally reject it and say, “sugar, please keep doing what you’re doing”. Unfortunately, after so long, I grew wearing of wetting my hair and re-braiding at night(this was the only way to keep the braid pattern on my 4c hair) and being that I did not know how manage or take care of my natural hair the RIGHT way, I went back to relaxing. Let the record show that my hubby had not part in my re-relaxing my hair. Let’s fast forward a couple of years. After deciding to go natural this second and last time, I decided to cut the remaining relaxer off and wear my TWA!! OMG!! My hubby must have “had a fit” to say the least. He no longer liked “braid-outs” and he had a difficult time accepting my natural hair. Now, I should have mentioned earlier above that the first time I went natural, I actually applied a “texturizer”. I know, I know, this actually “un-naturaled my hair”. (Is un-naturaled a word?)

Since then, I’ve realized that my hubby only liked the previous braid-out because it was on ‘texturized’ hair which made my hair texture look more like GOOD HAIR!!

Oh yes, the term GOOD HAIR!! I’m really starting to despise this word in our culture and community. In my opinion, there is NO SUCH THING!! All hair is GOOD HAIR to me because its the hair that God saw fit to grow out of the individuals head..

Moving on..

Fortunately, I guess my hair has grew out to an acceptable length for my hubby(I survived the “why won’t you wear braids again) speeches. He thought my mini-twists looked “masculine”(WOW!) As a culture, I believe us “women” are responsible for our men’s perception of natural black hair. Because we are not confident of our natural hair ourselves, it filters over to create bad  and mis-perceptions to in our men.

We have to move from trying to make ourselves something that we’re not or at least respect those who do. Many relaxed girlies talk down on those of us who’ve decided to go natural. I still don’t understand why they feel the need to do so being that we’re all women and we should support each other by sticking together. But if we can’t conjure up enough self-esteem and confidence in who God created us and each other to be, we can’t begin to expect our men to do it.

To sum it up…

My hair is about shoulder length when stretched and recently I put mini-twists on my hair and my hubby said, “I like that sugar, won’t you wear it like that more often!”

You see, I basically held my grown with very little compromising. Although, I definitely had to help my hubby change his mindset about natural hair(short natural hair that is), it was well worth it!

Being Content…Regardless?

Being content…what a great phrase right?

I wonder if I was to ask someone who is homeless, being sexually abused, on death row and the likes, “are you content with where you are?”, what their answer will be.

I bet it would not be good. Some might disagree with the statement that I am about to make but its solely based on biblical scripture, “regardless of your situation, believers must be content!” What does content mean…

Content is defined as…

“A state of satisfaction”

What does the bible say about being content…

Philippians 4: 11-13:  11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Woe, that mindset is beyond current and modern popular belief. We’re bombarded with ideas demonstrating that a persons satisfaction or “content” should be based on their situation. I’ve lived for over 30 years and I’ve learned that living on this planet brings unforeseen situations. Regardless of one’s spirituality, everyone born of a woman must suffer, endure calamity, hardships and the trials of life. Face it, all will endure some type of issue or problem within your life, some great, some small. I disagree with the “worlds” belief that a persons satisfaction is solely based on their circumstance, amount of money or material wealth.

In the above scripture in Philippians, the Apostle Paul was imprisoned, beaten and threw out of various temples an innumerable amount of time. He endured massive hardship in his flesh while living but as he stated, he learned to be content “regardless of his circumstances”.

In being content, I’ve learned that I find “joy, peace, love, hope”, you name it. It brings a peace that no one can take from you. I’m at a stage in my life where God has brought me through so many things that when a new “thing” arises, I’m confident in his quick “action” on my behalf. If He did it “that” time, He can and will do it again.

Knowing and confidently residing in the blessed hope, trust and faith in what God can and will do, calms all fear, anxiety and worry. Perfect love casteth out all fear and God IS love! Fear is a result of a lack of trust in the Father God. Often we look at our circumstance and situation and it seems impossible and often “unsolvable”. After you’ve had experience with the master, you’ll see and understand His awesomeness!!

When I run across a brother or sister or non, that is going through a trial or temptation that they feel is unbearable, I try to reassure them that the Lord will not put any more on them than they can bear and that they should stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. Standing still requires being in a state of contentness.

I challenge everyone reading this post to think about their circumstance, consider the millions of people in the world who might be going through something more worse than you and meditate on YOUR many blessings, regardless of what you may see around you and in your circumstance. Once you do this, you will resort to being content…REGARDLESS!

Are You Stressing Yourself to DEATH? 5 Steps To Stress Control

All of us are probably aware of the tremendous amount of recent studies conducted on stress and how it relates to our overall health. In modern years, a wealth of knowledge has been learned on this subject and the global community has embraced its findings, “Stress can be life-threatening!” But how much does stress influence our health, emotional and physical well-being? I know from experience that stress can lead to a pre-mature aging, fatigue, hair loss and even DEATH!

Yes my friends, stress can lead to death. A recent study shows that at least 10 major illness and ailments are directly or indirectly related to stress. These ten include(but are not limited to):

Heart Disease, Asthma, Obesity, Diabetes, Headaches, Depression/Anxiety, Gastrointestinal problems, Alzhemier’s Disease, Accelerated aging and of course Pre-mature death.

All of us have are or have either loved one’s, friends or those we know that have or are suffering from one of the above ailments. I have many family members that suffer from some of the above ailments. I believe that these illnesses  are directly related to the amount of uncontrolled stress in their lives.

In addition to the above ailments, stress hinders the amount and pace of hair growth and physical energy.  Thousands of people have suffered from hair loss due to stress, including Alopecia. Those of you who heart natural hair care,  are probably aware of the term “tension hair loss”. This is a term that describes the act of hair loss due to stressful weaves, extensions, braids and other hair styles, that often cause tension around the sensitive nape and hairline, as well as other parts of the scalp.  Stress or tension is term to describe a “pulling” or pressure that is expressed by uncomfortable, weighted pulling. So if we see this and agree to its known presence in natural situations such as hair, etc., we can definitely agree to the fact that it starts out in the spiritual realm and work its way out.

All of us have some form or type of stress. Some of us live under more stress or worry more than others but all that live on this planet must endure a reasonable amount of stress.  Stress is also associated with “suffering”, seemingly so. When we are suffering or FEEL like we are, it creates a stressful situation for us which can lead to increased heart palpitations, increased breathing, anxiety and more!And for those of us who suffer persecution from those around us for righteousness or  doing the “right thing”, this can increase the amount of stress in our lives.

2 Timothy 3:12 states: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

The question is not how to “get rid of stress” like some might teach online. The question is “how to you handle your stress”?  Unfortunately, some have turned to drugs and other unhealthy, negative answers which can only lead to other major problems.

Okay, there are a lot of “snack oil” products promising to do this or that or promising to provide a miracle cure for stress. As Christians, we look to the Holy scriptures as a compass and as the answer to all of our problems while living on earth. I love the acronym for the Bible, B. I. B. L. E.-“Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth!”

We do not resort to the same solutions as the world or should I say “unbelievers”. This fundamental concept is what ultimately separates us from unbelievers. Without this, how could one truly know the difference of the two.

Before you go out and spend one dime, start with these 5 simple steps, based on the word of God, to help control or manage the amount of stress in your life:

1. What’s stressing you?

-Seek guidance from the Lord to find out what stressors have taken up resident in your life. Are you concerned about bills, a loved one or some other issue?

2. Use the tool of Prayer

-The bible says in Phillipians 4:7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.-NIV

God is our source for peace and our ultimate problem solver!! Look to him for every solution that you seek and to resolve every fear or worry that you have.  By taking your fear, worry and anxiety to God, you are acknowledging He and Him alone, can solve your problem and that you are accepting and embracing your reliance on Him.

3.  Devotion and Meditation

-In the KJV translation, Matthew 11:28-30 states “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

God’s word has assurances and promises all throughout it. With mediation on these assurances “the scripture”, we are able to counteract any fear or worry that try to enter our spirit, soul or mind and cause stress. This is spiritual warfare at its finest! The word of God is a for sure sword!

4. Choose Faith not fear!

When fear come’s, we have the option to choose faith or fear. There are in direct opposition to one another.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” KJV

If you’re experiencing worry, fear and anxiety, God is not the author of this! These are from their father, “the devil”. When you feel fear, know that Satan is fear and God is Love. God is the author of peace, serenity and tranquility. Satan is the author of confusion, chaos and calamity!

Matthew 6:25-26: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” KJV

Know that God surely love’s you and if he takes care of all of the wild animals, He can surely handle our problems and provide for our needs, whether it be material, emotional or spiritual.

Romans 8:31 “If God be for, who can be against us” KJV

Regardless of what is going on around you, do not worry for you know that God is for you and He is MORE than the whole world!

John 14:27 “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” NLT

I love the way the New Living translation translates this passage. Jesus say’s here that He was leaving us a GIFT of “peace of mind and heart”. Wow! And even more, not like the fading image of peace that is offered through the world but the real, authentic peace that can only be found in God! Choose to trust God and reject fear.

5.  Bless His name!

One of the best way’s to combat the stresses of life is to use praise and worship. Praise and worship can be conducted through a variety of ways. Speaking, shouting, dancing, listening to Godly music and teachings are all ways that Christians praise the Lord.

Psalms 30:4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.” KJV

So many people, including myself, have experienced the superior power of praise and worship! If we praise and worship, it overshadows the stress, anxiety and fear that satan uses to stress us out. This is probably due to the fact that we are engulfed in the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power of God, and through praise and we worship, we realize that they are so much larger than our problems. Fear cannot coexist with the Holy Spirit!

Eccentric or Just Natural?

Since I’ve decided to let go of my addiction to ‘creamy crack’, I’ve received and experienced so many different reactions from others. Of course, I’ve received a tremendous amount of positive and edifying insights, reactions and assurances from fellow naturals but from others….that’s a mixed review. Friends of mine, as well as others who are still dedicated to spending a tremendous amount of cash, time and scalp cells, in order to have the straightest, relaxed hair, often coin those who decide to wear their natural hair as “ECCENTRIC” or “SOULFUL”. I’ve even overheard someone stating that we naturals are “getting back to our African roots”. Okay, understandable. Personally, I do not find that comment offending, being that my African roots deserved to be cherished and embraced. But despite this, I also cherish the percent of Caucasian and Native American blood that’s also running through my veins. Just because I decide to wear the hair the God has ordained to grow from my scalp, doesn’t make me any more “ETHNIC” or culturally endowed than the next person. On the other hand, I believe that some might would become offended at these perceptions, held by so many in our society. Regardless of race, most, if asked, would coin ‘natural hair’ as ‘eccentric’. I refuse to let others place me into a box or borders. I refuse to locked into what society says. Call me a REVOLUTIONARY!  I choose to just be called “NATURAL”

Little Natural Girls, Confidence And The Dolls They Love!

Since I’ve been natural and into this quote on quote “natural thang”.I seen the light! It’s truly very revelatory to say the least. Though most of my closest friends are still addicted to that “creamy crack”, we try not to judge each other knowing that all things might not work for everyone.But I am loving being a natural due to the fact that it is very low maintainence, when compared to other regimes. Lately, I’ve been having a problem with my 2 little girls. I have a 5 year old and a 7 year old. When my seven year old was 3, I put a “Just For Me” relaxer on her head. After finding out that I made the wrong decision, I began transitioning her hair.

Thankfully now, both of my girls are full naturals. The problem is that both of them are now in school and dealing with pressure from a “straight” haired world. Most of her classmates are of other races or have relaxed hair. I’ve been trying to get them to understand and appreciate their unique beauty. I often tell them of how God create us with the hair that is “growing” out of our roots, straight, wavy or curly and that we should not covet someone else’s hair.

I have straightened their hair before and this appeased them somewhat. Do you know that my 5 year old had the audacity to ask for a “PERM”! Red alarms went OFF in my head! Okay, this was the last straw! This is when I decided to cultivate my inner natural! A friend of mine sent me a Facebook link to Afro Glitz and site devoted to expressing young natural hair. This was the first time that I had saw natural haired dolls. They were beautiful(unlike the black dolls of day…UGLY!)

I showed them to my girls, in addition to the tremendous amounts of head shots that were present, of beautiful little <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SN564qtvKTc”>natural hair dolls</a>. My girls loved it, seeing cute dolls and other girls like them. I went on a search to find some of these dolls online and they were EXPENSIVE!

So one day, my girls and I ran across a site where a mom, like me, was tired and fed up with not being able to find suitable cute dolls or items to help her assist her daughter in becoming confident and secure in her natural hair skin. So Beads, Braids and Beyond started making her girls dolls hair appear natural called I tried to do it with, let’s just say, the supplies I had at home. I didn’t turn out as well but definitely a new, natural barbie was born and my girls loved it

I showed them to my girls, in addition to the tremendous amounts of head shots that were present, of beautiful little natural hair dolls. My girls loved it, seeing cute dolls and other girls like them. I went on a search to find some of these dolls online and they were EXPENSIVE!

So one day, my girls and I ran across a site where a mom, like me, was tired and fed up with not being able to find suitable cute dolls or items to help her assist her daughter in becoming confident and secure in her natural hair skin. So Beads, Braids and Beyond started making her girls dolls hair appear natural called I tried to do it with, let’s just say, the supplies I had at home. I didn’t turn out as well but definitely a new, natural barbie was born and my girls loved it!