Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Boo Framework

(Photo Features: Actor Michael B. Jordan & I)



This past weekend was interesting.

I think I broke a mold in people's mind.

You see, I've been single for...well, as long as most people have known me. Yeah, I'm that girl. You've never seen me with a boyfriend, you're pretty sure that I'm into guys, but you've just never seen me date. And somehow, without even trying, I've been put in that asexual/neuter compartment in your mind.

But last weekend changed a lot of perceptions, including my own.

I had the pleasure of meeting two very high profile, ridiculously handsome men. And I took advantage of the situation and wanted to capture the moment. Our faces together, in one concentrated frame.

I had no idea what would ensue afterwards.

The imagery of my face next to a man's face in this particular context was almost shocking to some people, while also bringing unexpected delight.

It was merely practice, ya'll.

It's funny, in my last post, I talked to you about my paper "vision board"--Well, I've also been a big fan of Pinterest, because it's basically like a digital vision board. Posting and collecting those things that inspire you, remind you, and challenge you.


Actor Michael Ealy & I


Well, I have a "Board" on Pinterest titled "Favorite Man S.W.A.G." - And both of these men that I had the pleasure of sharing a brief moment with, happen to be featured on my "Favorite Man S.W.A.G." board.

So I'd like to encourage us all.

To have vision.

Speak the vision.

And write the vision down.

It's practice and it's also preparation.







Wisdom's Knocking:

"And then God answered: 'Write this. Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
 And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait.
 It’s on its way. It will come right on time.'"

-Habakkuk 2:2-3 (The Message Translation)












Monday, February 24, 2014

And Then He Gets Restored





      Do you remember that one time when I wrote a letter to my future boo? If not, take a quick glance HERE:

     I just finished reading it and cried. And yes, I do mean that ugly cry. But first, let me back up.

     Contrary to popular belief, I'm still single. I know. #shocking.

     And this past week, I felt the brunt and mockery of my singleness. Meaning, I felt taunted by my own wants and desires. I just felt a bit indifferent to the whole idea of romance. I've been nursing a level 7 crush since January. But the odds of actually connecting in real life with this cute funny man are dumb and just last night, I sort of fell out of like with him. And the crush is barely hanging on. It's more a less a .5 level crush.

     I honestly don't know what happened that caused my affections to switch off so dramatically, but they did. And I'm sure he's a lovely guy, and that we may even be friends, but my heart is not in it like it was.

     And I release again.

     But here I am, ready to mingle, and meet my man, 2 months fresh off of my year long singleness vow and nare a date in sight.

     But wait, one Almost happened...last week, while I was working my last awards show. He was tall, dark and handsome. I was getting all the signals. He was flirting.  And I was curious. But then, hours later, word got out that I was a "youth pastor" in addition to a television freelancer and his intentions shriveled up to about the size of the period that will end this sentence.

     Oh. We're dealing with that again. The good ole intimidation factor. And then I started to get mad at God. "Look, I'm here being a good girl, trying to represent Your goodness, and it's backfiring on me."

     Yes. Now, I do understand the flip side, that in many ways, this is actually God's protection and favor. A screening process of sorts, that only allows the men that could really handle me, get to me and know me truly and wholly. The man that will act as a real man in my life. But you know, when you're in the situation, you don't care about that. You're just hurt. And I was. Hurt.

     Meanwhile, I've been meaning to finish my vision board for the last month. You know, magazine cut out pictures of those things that represent the dreams and desires of your heart taped or glued on a white paper sheet or board. Well, I had plenty of images describing my hopes and desires regarding health, career, and such, but I was having a hard time finding images that fit the romantic dreams of my heart...Until yesterday.

     The Lord is so gracious and kind to us. #reallytho

     This week, as I expressed my frustration to God about my current romantic situation. And God, in His tender fatherly voice to me, would ask me over and over again, "What do you like about him?" This in reference to my previous crush.

     And I would tip toe around the answer, because if I dared to answer, that meant it was real and that I cared and that I would have to have hope. And all those things were too scary for me to engage with once again.

     But that didn't stop Him from asking, "But what do you like about him?" And after about 30 minutes of me trying to avoid the question. I slowly started to answer.

     But that was just the beginning. God had so graciously gotten my heart engaged in the topic. And all of sudden, I started remembering what it was that I really wanted regarding my romance story, regarding my man.

     The conversation became less about this crush and more about the bigger picture of my marriage and our callings.

     And then I remember the couple that I had been adoring from afar for years now. I've pinned their music and pictures on Pinterest and I've even featured them on this blog several times. There was something in the DNA of their relationship that resonated with my heart, it felt like home to me. And I found myself researching photos of them online last night that I could print out and proudly display on my vision board.

     And I did.

     With that said, their photos have now become the first images officially put and displayed on my vision board.

     But then it gets better.

     This morning in the beginning of my quiet time with God. Gratitude began to fill my heart afresh. And I honestly didn't know what I was exactly grateful for. But warm tears kept falling, falling fast down my face.

     And as I tried to compose myself, I continued reading the book of John in the Bible alongside the current accompanying study I've been in for a little over 2 years now.  I've simply been taking my time, and letting God speak to me afresh through His words. And this week, I've finally made it to the last chapter of John.

     This has been a journey my friend.

     I realized that my romance journey was not simply about him, my future boo, but about me, more specifically, about me and God.

     There were levels of restoration that God wanted to do in my heart. And these things needed time. There was just no way of getting around that.  I also always found it interesting and a bit crazy, how the John study that I was in, would always line up with what I was facing in life at the time.

     And today was no different.

     The book of John closes with 2 distinct stories, that are currently changing my life:

1. "The Miraculous Catch"

and

2. "The Restoration of Peter"

     Let it be known that I've always identified with the disciple, Peter. He's such a thug, hard-headed and bold-- ready for adventure, and after the Jesus' crucifixion becomes vividly aware of his need for God in all things.

     I've read the book of John many times in my life, but I've never read it like I have in these last 2 years.

     And upon reading those 2 closing stories back to back, I had an epiphany of sorts.

     It was as if God in His kindness was writing a love letter to Peter...and to me. I didn't see that coming. How far reaching the love of God could really be. How present it always is for us, even in the grand scheme of things.

     And with that, I am realizing again, our dreams and desires are attached to a bigger purpose. Don't be tricked into thinking that it's just about you. It's not.

     This love that we carry, is always pointed outwards. The more we try to hold it selfishly close unto ourselves, we starve it.

     The love that God has blessed me with already--my family, my friends, and my co-workers fills my heart with such deep gratitude on a daily basis. But this morning, my gratitude went deeper.

     I now know why I was crying with such gratitude this morning, before I had even fully begun my quiet time.

     My mind finally caught up with my spirit.

     See, I had known God as the Dream Giver.

     And I had also known God as the Dream Fulfiller.

     But now, today, I know God as the Dream Restorer.






Wisdom's Knocking:

"This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things;
and we know that his testimony is true.
And there are also many other things that Jesus did,
which if they were written one by one,
I suppose that even the world itself could not contain
the books that would be written. Amen."

- John 21:24-25







Wednesday, February 19, 2014

When Good Kids Say Bad Words



♫ 'Cause you're a good kid and you know it... ♫  

     That's my own personal remix of Drake's song, "Just Hold On, We're Going Home". For those that aren't familiar at this point with this now played out song....that I still love, Click Here.

     So I was at Le Target by myself not too long ago. And I found myself traipsing all over the store, just getting sucked into the vortex that is Target. And then when I passed the paper towel aisle, I saw this incredibly cute little boy probably about 5 years old, in a shopping cart, being pushed around by his determined father. And when I say determined, I mean, he was a young hip father, but definitely didn't have time for Target. He was there on assignment--clearly.

     And this little boy kept saying, "Ship, ship, ship, ship, ship, ship, ship." Over and over again. Proud as a peacock. Non-stop. I mean, there wasn't even a medley to it. It was like a steady monotone march proceeding from his mouth.

     I smiled. And I thought to myself, "Awww, isn't that cute?" (Of course I would say that, I didn't have to listen to it for more than a few seconds...but still.)

     And the father saw me smile and he tried to muster a smile back, but didn't.

     Wow, man. Okay. #rude

     And so I continue fake shopping in Target. And I find myself in the food section. Duh. Of course I do. And guess who rounds the corner. Yes. You guessed it. "Ship, ship, ship, ship, ship, ship, ship..."

     And his father and I exchange a quick glance. I smile out of habit this time and once again, the dad quickly turns his gaze away and whips his cart around the corner. I'm pretty sure there were cart skid marks on the ground after that.

     So I just shook my head. #Somepeople

     Continuing on, I'm now finally nearing the checkout. And who then rolls up behind me in their cart...

     I mean, there has got to be some scientific term for how you keep bumping into the same 3 people in any given place, store, city, school, office, etc. I mean, am I the only one that finds this a bit weird? How does this consistently keep happening in our lives?! Ok. I digress.

     So yes, "Ship, ship, ship, ship" and company are right behind me in line. Of all the lines available.

     And then I turn around to give this little boy one last smile and I watch his mouth for a moment as he continues on with his favorite word. And then it dawns on me...He's not saying "Ship" at all...




     Ohhhhhhh. Now I understand why dad didn't smile back as a simple gesture of acknowledgment and appreciation of me thinking his child was cute and amazing. Dad was partially embarrassed and ashamed. I could now properly see it on his face. And in our brief exchanges throughout the store, he probably wanted to pause all of his current efforts and simply say, "But he's a good kid, and I know it." But he didn't have time for all that. And instead dad tried to pummel through.


     From the perspective of our dad in this story, isn't it just like shame to shut us up and to have us miss the good and kind intentions that are trying to infiltrate our lives. With that said, don't let shame steal from your life. And please don't miss the good working in your life this week--those things that are trying to smile back at you and engage you in some positive way.

     And how many times are we that little boy. Where we are often unaware of the fruitless words that we use. And they somehow become a false marking of our identity. We like using these words, because everyone else is using them. And they have the illusion of real power. Note: I'm not merely talking about curse words here, but words of our culture, words that are not true representations of who we really are.

     Having said that, let the words of our mouths affirm the beautiful character and identity we are meant to genuinely walk in.

     I know we won't always say the perfect words, but never forget who you really are.



Wisdom's Knocking:

“It was always the becoming he dreamed of, never the being.” 
 ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise





Monday, February 17, 2014

When You're Home

     

      I've been learning afresh in these last few months how to simply be a daughter.

     It's so easy to get caught up in the personalities of our days and the people that surround us. Our agendas, our schedules. It's in this swirl that we gradually begin to blend into something undefined and opaque, rather than allow ourselves to be truly present.

     We are bombarded with versions of our own identity through magazines, films, and TV shows. And it doesn't take long before we start believing those images, and those powerful, powerful words.

      You become what you behold...

     And so when I, in December was struggling intensely with anxiety, it thrust me into a place of weakness. Weakness that would then set me up for a type of strength that I had not been living in before.

     I had heard many many times, in the past, "In our weakness, God's strength is made perfect." But now, I was beginning to actually live it. I was beginning to experience this incredible exchange first hand.

     The ways in which I thought I was autonomous---well...it was just an illusion.

      And in the midst of my fading strength, I was struggling to let go of this illusion. Because if I couldn't control this illusion of trying to hold it all together, how could I control anything else? How in fact, could I and would I live?

      And this is where things began to shift dramatically in mid-January.

     When I let go of my faulty and limited strength, God's strength swooped in.

      And I don't just mean, like a dove gently perching on my shoulder.

     I mean, more like a life transfusion being infused into every atom and molecule in my body, and especially my mind.

     I was no longer living off of my own limited life source, but instead, the life of God.

     And when His strength came, I was face to face with something equally scary and glorious. The potential possibilities of who I could become and the things that I could really do.

     He brought me home, into Himself. And when you're home with Him. There's no fear there. It's--it's the place you've always meant to come to.

      You know when you're at home at your family's house. You can take your shoes off, lay all pretenses aside. You burp, you fart. No one is shocked that you sleep until 2PM. And you get to be yourself. You simply get to rest.

      Believe it or not, it's from that place that we are meant to catapult into destiny, from a place of rest, your soul being at rest, in an atmosphere of love.

     Because Identity is strongly rooted in the places we call Home.

     And so now, God, after walking with me through the Valley of Despair, holding my hand ever so firmly, began to show me who I really was and am. My identity through His eyes. And He, with those beautiful eyes invited me to rest in this identity. To see it, To know it. To accept it. And finally now, to live it.

     It's so interesting what you learn, when you go Home.

     And I--

     I'm learning, how to simply be a daughter.




Wisdom's Knocking:

Let God's heart be your Home.




Clip features: "Home" - JohnnySwim
Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gquPSRCwk68


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How to Heal From a Broken Heart

     


     In many ways it seemed doomed from the beginning. But he was cheeky. He was hot. And he wanted me. Three of my favorite traits in a man.

     I ignored the still small voice telling me to just walk away. I was hard-headed, stubborn, and I needed wanted to see this thing through somehow. You know, when you just want to see how the movie ends for yourself. And sometimes, no amount of sage advice can steer your course otherwise.

     But be prepared, because experience is an often cruel professor.

     I knew I was taking a risk, I knew that if I ignored the gentle voice of caution for too long, there was going to be a crash and burn. We were like fire, he and I.

     With him, there were a lot of firsts --first dates by the pier, first embraces under the stars, first kisses on the hillside...and lots of laughs and silliness.

     Oh, how I wanted to be hopeful.

     And then the day finally happened when I chose to give my heart over, knowing that it wasn't completely in safe hands. "But if only I give him more time to change, we'd be happier--I'd be happier."

     Pause.

     See that was my flaw.

     Waiting to get happy, instead of already being happy.

     And my second flaw:

     Trying to change a man.

     Ladies & Gentlemen:

     We do not change people. We do not control people. And what you see is often what you get.

     And any change or control that you have manipulated or forced onto someone's life, is often an illusion and won't be sustained for the long term.

     If there is any changing to be had, let God author it in their lives. The chances of  that change being sustained is far greater.

     "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them." - Maya Angelou

     That goes for both the good and bad...

     And then we crashed and burned.

     He cheated and now there was a baby involved. Hers.

     And I spent my nights crying and heaving and crying some more. My heart was utterly and sincerely broken. That was brand new and all kinds of awful for me.

     My tender heart was now thorny and raw.

     So this is what they meant when they talked of a broken heart.

     But I didn't want to look gray, nor did I want to feel like it for the rest of my life.

     And slowly, weeks and months pass, a letter comes from him. Sincere and apologetic, but expressed everything that I had already known beforehand. We were never truly meant to be together.

     And the second blow of heart break pounds my chest, sending reverberations like questions in a mathematician's mind. Why did it all have to figure out like this?

     But replaying and asking questions that were neither here nor there, wouldn't lead me to what I was lacking in the first place, a mature understanding love.

     And then the days became weeks, and the weeks became months and so on, and so forth.

     And my brokenness would soon lead to relief, freedom, and renewed hope.

     Healing came. And so did love.



     And now, I'm so grateful to share with you How I Healed From A Broken Heart: 


Forgive:

     This was honestly my very first step. I didn't feel any emotion when I did it in my bedroom by myself, but it was important to get the words out and let my heart follow suit when it was ready.

     Forgiveness is not about excusing or justifying the behavior that this person did to you, but instead, forgiveness sets you free from carrying the burden of hatred. Which by the way takes up far more energy than you would believe!


Talk it Out:

     Having 1 or 2 key people that you can simply share your heart with is key. These are the folks that will just listen and not try to figure everything out for you. And once you're done talking it out. Then talk it out again.

     Each time you talk it out, ask yourself what you're learning about your own heart from the words that you are sharing.

Release & Pray:

     There's so many times when we just don't understand. Why? Why? Why?

     And when it comes to the many layers of a broken heart, one must be prepared to truly release the pain and give it over to God.

    You may find yourself grabbing the pain back once in a while, simply because it was your comfort tool, but just keep releasing. It will be worth it.

Connect/Re-Connect With Those Things You Loved to Do:

     Do you remember you? If not, you're about to go on a journey of recollection and discovery.

     In fact, we all are discovering --what's been there in us, what's still there in us,  and what will continue to be there in our hearts.


And Believe for Better:

     If you can't begin to believe, see, or agree for something hopeful, you'll most likely not recognize or walk away from a truly hopeful adventure and go back into the arms of your painful past cycles.

     Much like how an abused woman will often find/attract another abuser until she starts to believe that she truly is worth more and deserves better.

     You heart is worth so much more than you know. And there's someone out there that truly knows this to be a fact as well as a gift they want to cherish.

     And the first someone who should embrace this revelation... is yourself.





Wisdom's Knocking: 

“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, 
and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. 
I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape.” 

 ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations










Monday, February 10, 2014

Sometimes Adventures Can Happen On A Thursday




You know I'm big on us having adventures, especially if you're single.

Well, I set out in my heart to have a fun little adventure with a sweet friend of mine.



This time, I didn't go to Europe, but rather down the street...to Target, a cute cafe called "Leo & Lilly" in my city, and then off to a small music venue called "Room 5", here in Los Angeles.



It also rained a little bit for us. Which was oh, so lovely.




That bread pudding though!



Just because it's an errand doesn't mean you can't make it fun.







And then time for some music...




video


video









Wisdom's Knocking:

Just because an adventure may seem small doesn't mean it still can't be grand.




Wednesday, February 05, 2014

A Story of Sir Mix-A-Lot & Karen Carpenter

    


      So maybe it's not completely lady like of me to mention that my favorite song then and possibly now is "Baby Got Back" from the incomparable, Sir Mix-A-Lot.

     This is how the song opens:

     "I like big butts and I cannot lie."

     Okay. Before you send your protests, let me share with you how exhilarating it was back in 1992. Yes. '92. For a young girl to hear an appreciation for her body type.

     I honestly didn't take it in fully at that age as a sexual song, but much more as a body affirmation song. This song came on the scene, in the midst of the drug addict waif model look being all the rage, and my African-American attributes of sorts being considered more of an inconvenience--hard to handle, simply tolerated rather than celebrated.

     Which leads me to my next point. I know, you weren't quite sure if I had one, but alas, I do.

      I'd like to break a myth that some of you may be believing about others or perhaps even yourself. The myth being:

Big girls, curvy girls, thick girls, girls with girth, don't get hit on, don't have boyfriends, and don't have husbands.

     Ummm. So yeah. Nope.  That's not even close to being true. Which in turn, makes it a lie. In fact, all of my 'more curvy' friends have had more dates, romances, and invitations to marriage than me...

     Yes, you may think these girls are desperate or in need of a complete overhaul before qualifying for romance, but while your concocting ways in which to help them change, they just finished having a dinner over looking the ocean with Rico. #hesjustsosmooth

     The stats are out. You curvy ladies are desirable. #realrealtalk

     Now look, get healthy. Be healthy. Whether you are big boned or not.  Love your body. And know, somebody, somewhere is ready to love your body too. #yesidid

     So there we had Sir Mix-A-Lot helping to shape my body image, and on the other side of the spectrum of influence for me was a woman by the name of Karen Carpenter...

    I'd like to think all of my readers know who Karen Carpenter was. But I'm afraid, probably only 3 of you do. #istillloveyou

     Quick introduction to this magnificent songbird. She wrote and played music in a band with her brother. They were known as "The Carpenters". Karen Carpenter had a voice like velvet and could also play the drums (My kind of girl!). To put it bluntly, this is what Paul McCartney, of The Beatles fame said about her voice:
"The best female voice in the world: melodic, tuneful and distinctive."
     Now you get the gist.

     But Karen's life was cut short at 32. Complications due to her long term struggle with anorexia. The eating disorder that evokes extreme fear of gaining weight and a distorted self image, thus leading one to starve themselves to death.

      I distinctly remember watching a docudrama detailing her life and struggle while I was in high school. I was never the same after that.

      I never realized how our bodies and our self image could be so detrimental. How powerful that was in both good and bad ways. And how we could sabotage our own destinies and impact the destinies of others.

     From that point, I viewed my body and my brain much differently.

     So if you don't do it already, you should talk to your body. Yeah. You laugh. But I'd rather encourage my body than tell it how stupid and gross it is. I'd rather state a future for my body that is hopeful and not full of despair and stress. So again, I say, encourage your bones like an old friend. Yes, you should be kind to yourself, more than you've been.


     So I've just told you a story about Sir Mix-A-Lot and Karen Carpenter, and how they played an influential part in my body image journey. And I guess, I simply wanted to say to the both of them, "Thank You."

     And to you dear reader, you are handsome, beautiful, and desirable. #youstillgotit

     Never forget that.




Wisdom's Knocking:

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.










P.S. And if you are someone struggling with your worth, body image, etc. please do not hesitate to shoot me a quick email. I'd love to pray for a shift to occur in your thinking. You don't have to go at this alone! Getting this area of our lives under the dominion of love is key in the adventure that God has awaiting us!




Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The Power of Innocence

     


     I've been seeing those movie adverts lately--the one in particular that says, "Say goodbye to innocence". And I have this weird urge to jump out of my car and punch that poster in its face. I know, it sounds extremely dramatic and violent. But I'm just being real with you for a moment.

     And let's not even talk about how ambiguous the storyline seems. I mean, What.Is.The.Story.About? From what I've gathered, it's about hot teenage sex. But again, I ask, WHAT.IS.THE.STORY.ABOUT?? And then they hit me with the tagline (as mentioned above), as if that makes it all better and oh, so clear.

     But then, I pump my brakes. And I take a beat, and I ask myself, "But why are you angry about saying goodbye to innocence, Patrice?" Are you mad that you haven't been able to say goodbye to innocence in no uncertain terms? And I squint, and I think about this question intently. Yes, I'm a unicorn (See this link for further clarification), and am I mad about it? I squint some more. Nope. At least not today, I'm not.

     So why all the anger and punching?

     I get still again. And I think some more about this.

     And a trickle of thought finally comes through.

     "But everyone has forgotten the power of innocence."

     It's why we are drawn to puppies and newborns. It's why explorers absolutely love finding untouched and innocent, unpolluted land. Something about this innocence reminds us of home. A home that many of us have forgotten about or continue to deny its existence. But your spirit still leaps, your heart still cries with joy when touching this magnificent innocence. Because there's an imprint of love there.

     And yet, we as humans think we make things unequivocally better by tampering with, reducing, adding to, or mixing those very things that were once innocent--those moments, people, and things, that were shining brightly with a heavenly light, before time, pain, and disappointment rubbed its grimy hands all over it.

     Yes, I understand that change is the only constant, but I am also aware that innocence, once lost, is very, very hard to regain.

     And I'm keenly aware that everything in our current culture would love to strip away innocence and devalue its worth, power, and place in our lives, because it threatens the status quo. It brings conviction in the way of stating things could be and should be better.

     I used to be ashamed at my lack of worldly, sexual experience. Because there didn't seem to be a value placed on it at all in our society. And even now, the responses I get vary. But while there are the celebratory responses, there are also my favorite "Stank face" responses- A sort of, "You're making me uncomfortable and I'm kind of weirded out by you" vibe.

     But while innocence may convict, it has this sneaky ability to draw you in. You just can't keep staring at that puppy in that now famous Super Bowl commercial and even though you don't want kids of your own, you have to admit that baby looks a bit angelic just sleeping there in its stroller.

    And to think, we are excited to say goodbye to innocence. It's a tag line now. A throw away phrase. But it has so many more implications.

     It's one thing to get people to believe that there's no sin, evil, or demonic power in the world, but the leftover footprints of innocence lost in our world would state otherwise.

     The power of innocence not only leaves us with a footprint of love and home, it is a reminder of the possibility of all things being made new.

     It's the tangible display and hope of redemption.

     Innocence is not simply about never being exposed to anything horrible, but it is about embracing the truth of real godly love in the midst and adjusting accordingly.

     Today, I encourage us to look at those areas of our lives that have been tarnished, and simply ask God to restore His innocence in our lives, giving us fresh eyes to see, and a fresh heart to believe, that once again, anything is possible.






Wisdom's Knocking:

“It takes a very long time to become young.” 

 ― Pablo Picasso