Tag Archive | hope

Soulmates & Singleness


Last night I had a good conversation with a dear friend.  We talked about one of our most frequented topics: singleness.  We reminisced about the times spent walking out this path we never thought we’d face and how much we’ve grown since those early days.  Where had the time gone?  We wondered.  I remembered an old video on black women finding love after 40 and some who never “found love” at all.  My friend had also watched that video way back when and shared her sentiments on it.  “It’s depressing” she said.  I can see why she would feel that way though I don’t remember having that perspective as a 20- something watching it.  I only remember thinking, “That won’t be me!”  Even if I didn’t verbally say those words, I feel that message was ingrained deeply in my heart.  You see at that time in my spiritual walk I didn’t understand that God could (and would) use time to work out some stuff that would hinder purpose and identity from being manifested through me.  I certainly didn’t see the stuff I needed working out at that point so of course I didn’t think He would need to do too much work on me.  Ah, to be young and naïve again😆.  My timeline was that of the culture’s timeline and even now I struggle against that mindset.  But what I have learned in the time that has occurred between then and now is this: Father knows best.  I now understand that when God says, “no” it is in my best interest whereas back then I only saw one side of the coin (when God said “no” He was just being mean).  So watching that video back then I interpreted it through that lens.  The one-sided coin lens.

Since I’m a little older now and am actually closer to the age of the women who were interviewed, I decided to re-watch it through these new-more mature lenses.  When I did, I felt grieved for the women who wanted love and for one reason or another did not find it.  I did relate to how they cultivated a full joyful life outside of a relationship.  And I did understand their desire to please God in a life of celibacy that they never envisioned in their future.  But there was one subtle question my heart was asking as the statistics of single, black-educated women rolled on the screen. How healthy are these women?  I wondered.  You see in the last few years I’ve had a lot of revelations as to why I needed singleness and everyone of them had to do with the fact that I myself was very unhealthy.  I wouldn’t have known a healthy relationship if it hit me in the face.  And I’m sure there were good men around me who avoided me like the plague because of my red flags.  Thankfully I had the Holy Spirit who guided me and pruned me and created something a little better than what existed before.  So I watched half of the video and felt their pain and empathized with their cup that I myself am also drinking from, but I also know that we can be limited in our understanding of God’s ways…

Statistics are statistics and I can’t say that I am exempt from them.  Maybe some of the reason I am single is because black men are incarcerated and gay and not educated.  Maybe I am affected by these facts.  But my experience trumps statistics.  And my experience is that I am chosen and God has been very intentional with me to deliver me and heal me and restore me (He is such a good Dad).  He has been very intentional with me to set me apart, teach me and grow me.

I don’t know my future, but I do know my past.  He is my past.  He is Father and Maker and Friend.  And most importantly He is trustworthy.

Job 13:15 (KJV)

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him…

I hate that we are called to very difficult things.  That sometimes we don’t have the answers this side of heaven.

But sometimes we do have the answers.

I have found many answers hidden within the crevices of my heart (Ephesians 3:11).  And often, almost too many times, He has confirmed those answers through dreams and prophecy.  I have lived my life this way for the last 15 years, and I am encouraged by the Spirit of the Lord within my heart that no matter what the statistics say, no matter what another person’s story is or perspective is, I need to stay true to what I know inside.

He has intentionally set me apart for such a time as this and for my own good.  And He will give me the desires of my heart as I have first delighted in Him.

SHALOM

God Wants Isaac

father-and-son

Yesterday I had a book event. It was my first event with the new book How To Overcome Heartbreak: Stories That Heal. Unfortunately I didn’t sell as many books as I wanted. I know my mom was a little discouraged by that, but God has taught me an entrepreneur does not just look at the day to day of work, they look at the long run. Sales are up and down when you have your own business and so my outlook is just to look forward to the next opportunity to spread His Word through my writing. Though book sales weren’t what I wanted them to be, I still had a good time.

fullsizerender-3My mom was there to support as well as my roommate and a good friend. The café was crowded and the city was getting ready for a parade outside. It felt like the perfect fall evening as people were getting into the holiday spirit. We ate and talked and I ended up reflecting on this journey in singleness with my friend. She shared she had no idea that she would not be able to control her path. She thought marriage was just something she could make happen. I echoed her sentiments. I’m a few years older and my path has taught me that I am simply not in control (as much as I have wanted to be). I, like her, thought I could just settle and choose a guy and make it work. I’m a go getter and a planner. I like to check things off my checklist and obtain what I think is success. But God keeps teaching me, this world’s version of success is not always His version of success. Actually, it hardly ever is. 2 ½ years ago I thought I could choose the counterfeit and make a life work that I so desperately wanted. I held on to the false as tightly as I could yet still felt God prying my fingers away. Sleepless nights and a restless spirit haunted me and no matter how I tried I could not escape His voice. He was saying, “No”. I battled and ran and tried my hardest to make my plan happen but in the end I obeyed. God wanted Isaac. I thought about these things sitting across my friend in this little café. Maybe the book sales weren’t as important as sharing my testimony with her. She and I actually became friends because she read my first book…

15337477_10103382793032518_6270224381216550973_n

I was talking to my friend tonight and she shared she did not know how hard this would be. She did not anticipate that the waiting and trusting and believing would be so difficult when there was not a prospect in sight. When none of us had a prospect in sight and the mid 30s are right around the corner.

I love God. And that has been the strength I have needed and used on this journey. But in this season I did not have the intimacy and companionship He gave that has helped me up until this point to walk His path. That’s what made it harder. Not having that strength.

I had to develop strength in other areas. I had to develop mental strength. I had to learn to rely on His voice through His people and His Word instead of through my heart.  I am still learning…

There are times I wish I had not laid Isaac down. That is my humanity speaking. It is Christ saying, “Father, take this cup away from me”. He did not want to do it. It was the very thing He did not want to do. And the fact that He did it is just a testament to the power of God.

The fact that I did it is just a testament to Him. It is not my will but His…

SHALOM

His Mercies Are New

windowlight_1

 

This morning I got dressed in another fabulous outfit. I know they are fabulous because my roommate tells me so each morning right after our greeting 😉. We made chit chat about the upcoming election (apparently it is not on Nov 4th the way I’m pretty sure it has always been), the game last night that we were slammed in and of course the one and only Ben-Samuel😊.

I then made my way downtown and into the little cafe across the street  from my job. “Well we’ve gotta win it tonight!” I say to the Owner. He knows exactly what I’m referring to because the city is a buzz by the fact that after 50 years we have a chance at the World Series. “Yep!” He quips. “We’ve got no choice now!”  Well, that’s one way of looking at it, I thought.  At one point we were 3 to 1 and so close to holding the title as champions for the 2nd time this year and suddenly it slipped through our fingers. But instead of focusing on the loss the Owner and I realized we must take it in stride. We must see it as a challenge that we can–once again–overcome.

I talked with my boss this morning. I shared my fellowship is praying for him and  invited him to our next meeting.  He too came in the office with a fresh outlook. The business is struggling and we are at a loss as to what God is doing.  All we know is today.  The mercies that are given today.

And they are new mercies.

And all we can do is walk in them…

SHALOM

Blog Series: Encouragement From Marrieds to Singles (Kandis Taylor)

Hi guys!  The following interview is our final interview for this blog series “Encouragement From Marrieds to Singles”.  Enjoy!!!

 

Me: How long were you single?

Kandis: I was single for about a year before I met my husband. We met when I was 25 years old and he was 27. We married 4 years later.

Me: When you think back on your time of singleness what is one word you would use to describe that time and why?

Kandis: During my singleness I wasn’t exactly looking for “the one”. I had two serious relationships prior to meeting my husband and some “flings” in between to fill the void. So I guess my my one word would be “restored“. I wanted to have a feeling of peace and love that I knew I wasn’t receiving with my past relationships.

Me: What were some of the hard times of your singleness?  What were some of the great times?

Kandis: The hard times were sometimes feeling like I should settle and just go back to my ex. But I knew deep in my heart that God had different plans. I felt alone at times but again I knew that I wanted restoration and peace and I wanted real love.  The great times would have to be the process of moving on and not having any regrets and just enjoying life without the need to be in a relationship with someone

Me: What is one important lesson you learned in singleness?  In marriage?

Kandis: Getting to know yourself during singleness can be tough but at the same time fulfilling, having that time alone allowed me to discover myself. I discovered that I wasn’t adjusting my personality to suit the person I was with at the time. I discovered that God had a plan and purpose for me and in marriage it’s such a wonderful feeling to be with someone who helps you to grow spiritually and stands beside you while you’re fulfilling God’s purpose.

Me: What advice would you give to those who are waiting on God’s best and desire not to settle in their relationship choice?

Kandis: My advice would be to enjoy life, travel, serve others, listen, learn something new, find you, remember God has a plan for your life! Listen for HIS voice. Don’t settle, God is preparing HIS best for you!

kandis

Kandis Taylor is a wife, mom, sister, lover of God and faithful friend.  She enjoys serving with her husband and making sure her daughter has a good chance at running for president one day!

Blog Series: Encouragement from Marrieds to Singles (Candra Evans)

We are starting off our new series “Encouragement from Marrieds to Singles” with Mrs. Candra Evans!  I have been so honored to have connected with Candra and so inspired by her faith and perseverence.  There are not many I can say I look up to on this spiritual path however she definitely made the cut!  Her tenacity and humility count her as one who has  “Pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”.  Please show her some love in the comments below and by visiting her blog (see bio).  Thanks!

Me: How long were you single?

Candra: I always say eighteen years considering that I wanted love and marriage since I graduated high school. I presumed that meeting my future husband would happen in college and we would be married and pursuing our careers together soon after. God blessed me to marry at the sweet age of 36.

Me: When you think back on your time of singleness what is one word you would use to describe that time and why?

Candra: Uncertainty – As the years came and went, I found myself unsure of an answered prayer. I was unsure if marriage was part of God’s plan for my life. I was unsure of how I would face the world as a single woman of a certain age. Many times I felt insecure in my faith and my worth as a woman.

Me: What were some of the hard times of your singleness? What were some of the great times?

Candra: Some of the most difficult times was being filled with the hope of love, only to find that yet again, it was not meant to be. There were online dating disappointments and the holiday embarrassments of telling relatives that you don’t have a special someone. I recall not feeling so bad about it, until taking in the stunned gazes.

Glory be to God that when I allowed it, great times came in abundance. It took being firm about being positive. That wasn’t easy, but because my heart was open to it, God strengthened me by the power of His Spirit. In military like fashion I forged a bond with the Holy Ghost. I declared that I would live and declare the glory of God. In this season I found my purpose, I had fun with friends, and I took every opportunity to try something new. I discovered so much about myself and before I knew it, I was thriving.

Me: Why do you think God incorporated a longer season of singleness in your story than some of your peers?

Candra: Good question. In my uncertainty phase I asked myself this often. Was it something I did? Did I disobey God somehow? Then I gained a better understanding of grace and realized that I could never be “good enough”. There have been many benefits of getting married at this age. I am wiser. My life in Christ has direction. I have a greater appreciation for my marriage. Most of all, I am able to help others in their longer season of singleness.

Still, I always come back to this bottom line. My resolve is that my life is not my own. I entrusted my life to God and through my pain God has been glorified many times over. Whatever happens God allows for my best interest. It was better for me to marry at 36. Now that I have my desire, I can affirm that God got it right. He did this thing better than I ever could have on my own.

Me: What advice would you give to those who are waiting on God’s best and desire not to settle in their relationship choice?

Candra: Be true to yourself and your convictions. Do not make decisions that will complicate your life and your future.

There are a large number of those who mourn because they gave years of their lives to the wrong person. They settled for what they knew in their heart was not true. They said it was better than being alone. They said that they could make it work. Now they grieve. And if not careful, allow that grief to push them into another compromised relationship.

Maintain your blessed place in God’s will and in His Kingdom. There is no place better.

There really isn’t.

img_1080

Candra Evans is a minister, blogger and creator of Abundantly You for Christian Singles. She began blogging about her own Christian single journey in 2009. After many years of waiting, God blessed her to marry Pastor Ron Evans, Jr. in 2011. They currently minister and live in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hope for Haiti

I arrive after my 3rd and final flight. I’m here. I was emotional crossing the Atlantic as this was my first real trip out of the country. But I made it. I successfully make my way through customs, even dodging the $10 fee as I was mistaken for a Haitian. That would be the first time of many during my visit. It’s not until I make my way to baggage claim that I realize my bag more than likely is not there. I had only received 2 flight tickets during my travels and had to ask for the 3rd at the 2nd stop. That meant, my bag had only made it to the 2nd location. I am on the phone with my friend who I came to visit explaining all of this, panicking and freaking out. Then all of a sudden she is there in person and my frustration and anxiety are mixed with elation. But there is little time for a sweet reunion as we are now on a mission to find my bag. Lucky for me my friend speaks fluent Creole and is able to assist a lady at the service desk in locating my bag and scheduling it to be delivered the next day. I feel God’s presence and pray fervently that my bag and all of its contents will make it. My friend and I make our way through the crowd of people standing outside the airport and I follow her to the vehicle of choice. We then ride around with our driver and make our way into this new world I’ve never explored before. We drop off my carryon and I know this is the perfect time for a proper reunion which can only be completed with a picture.    
The first of over 600.  

I’m introduced to my friend’s friends as we make our way from one place to the next, finally settling down at a local restaurant. There was no electricity at this particular site and I was advised not to use the bathroom there. Or in many places for that matter. We wait over an hour for food and I am told that is normal. We make conversation as I sample the local beer called Prestige. I would have several Prestiges during my trip. The food arrives and we eat by the light of our iPhone apps. We solidify the evening with another picture.    

That evening we attend a Haitian night club and I learn what sensual people Haitians are. I also learn to not go into a dark room with a good looking man unless I’m ready for what comes with that. Always learning. My friend and I stay at a really nice hotel that night and I’m blessed they serve coffee in the morning. It’s a coffee unlike any in the States and I soon become addicted during my stay. The German owner of the hotel who personally delivered the coffee shares a little bit of his story and his heart for Haiti. “If we as believers are called to move mountains, than what is a country?” I am moved b/c I hear Holy Spirit in his words and I meet the revelation of the eternals in his eyes.  

God is here.  

We make our way to the airport to pick up my bag. We then meet with another friend of a friend and are served lunch at his house. We go sight-seeing, hangout and take more pictures. I also pick up some souvenirs. Each day I spend in Haiti is surreal. So many moments of bliss. There is poverty, but I am not as affected as I thought I would be. I look out the window of our vehicle at the streets through eyes not of a prideful American, but a lowly Haitian. Eyes I would have been given had I been born in Haiti. We cannot choose where we are born or the family we are born to. For that reason, I realize I could easily have been born into poverty and therefore what seems abnormal to me as an American would be my normal. I think I am also able to make this connection b/c on the outside I look Haitian and am often received as a Haitian. We stay in resort type places where they serve you fresh seafood in chairs overlooking the ocean. I am met with peace and quiet and catch my breath when I walk outside each morning b/c of the beauty that surrounds me. It is stuff I’ve only seen it movies. It is paradise. My friend knows it and that’s why she brings me here. I can’t get over how quiet it is. It is quiet b/c tourism is low and not many locals can afford these premises. We visit the beach where we negotiate a fair price for souvenirs. Negotiation is vital and my friend is stellar at it. We lounge and relax, drinking water from a coconut and I am on vacation. 

 
We eat lobster on the beach and take more pictures. At some point we visit my favorite place of all. “Bassin Bleu”. Quite the little hidden jewel. We are guided by locals, leaping over water and carefully walking across slippery rocks. The danger in falling is evident and I trust God is ordering my footsteps. We successfully make it under the waterfall, and my iPhone successfully makes it too (due to much prayer I’m sure!!).    

    
 That evening I witness more of the manifested presence of God as my friend and a pastor pass out gifts to local children. The kids are taught that the larger gift is in fact Jesus and I am touched beyond words at the gospel being shared. Each package was carefully put together by donors all over the country. If only they could see the kids’ faces when they received their gifts!  

Seeing those faces make the heat more bearable as the church has no air conditioning and I am feeling sick at one point b/c of the heat and the long day. My friend and I relax that night and the next day make our way to the mountains where I am touched again by the quiet and beauty. I also end up meeting my friend’s girls. She mentors them once a week and they are precious. They ask me questions in English while I struggle to ask them questions in Creole/French. My friend translates and we take more pictures.   

 The very last night of my stay I am sitting with my friend, her pastor and his wife. They are pouring into us. He is speaking eternal words and I have tears forming b/c I know the Father is letting Himself be known again. I realize that the only way I can possibly fulfill the calling on my life is to walk so closely to the Father that I cannot easily be distracted from purpose. I am told that in order to walk with Him I must agree with Him. I have not been agreeing. But even in my frustration and difficulty, He is still caring for me. He is blatantly showing me on this trip that I am favored and I am His. He is teaching me many things.  

My friend’s pastor shares his heart for his country. He shares that even in the midst of the poverty and the struggle, there is hope. He knows this country is in a season of transformation. I am reminded that I am a prophetic person, and it could be that my trip itself is prophetic. It could be that my exposure to the beauty of this place is just a glimpse of what others will see in the coming season. Even as we were traveling one of our drivers uncharacteristically began sharing his heart about Haiti in Creole. Up until that point he had been so silent, but then his words began pouring out and I could not help but think God was speaking through him. “So many come to this country and they see its beauty but then they go back to their own, and they only speak of the negative things. They only speak of the poverty. They make it seem like Haiti is dangerous and scary”. Even though I needed my friend to translate his words, I still felt his pain at being falsely labeled.  

It’s difficult to summarize my experience in Haiti. My friend made sure I saw all its different parts. The city, the country, the beauty and the poverty. I took it all in, knowing this is a once in a lifetime experience. I learned how much a country forms and shapes ones’ identity. I learned to adjust my expectations that were cultural. I learned how some things are the same no matter where you go. I learned how important having order on the road is and paved streets. I learned that just because someone is different, doesn’t mean they are lesser than. I think that is something Americans have ingrained in them. I think the missionaries that come to Haiti have good intentions, but I don’t know if their tactics are the most effective. I think my friend who has adopted this country and their people and their ways is going to be more effective than a thousand well-intentioned missionaries simply b/c she is not trying to change the people, but help them. A country suffering with a 90% unemployment rate, needs more than a few missionaries visiting and passing out tracks every now and then. I could see that the Haitians are well acquainted with religion and Christianity as exhibited in the references to Jesus and scripture on most public buildings and transportation vehicles. More religion is not going to help this country. I don’t believe religion helps any country. They need people coming alongside them, helping to create sustainable change and opportunity. There are so many who are educated and talented and b/c they do not have opportunity their gifts are wasted. I can’t imagine how purposeless one would feel with no open door to use the God given talents they were given. Religion is not needed. Relationship is needed.

I was in awe of my friend who has traded her middle class, secure, comfortable life for these people. She reminds me of Ruth in the Bible. I can’t imagine loving someone or something so much that you shed your own identity for them/it. It is God to put this mission in her heart and it’s simply amazing. I’m blessed He has given me this opportunity to see His heart for another part of this world and to meet the people who share His heart.     

   
There is hope for this generation, no matter where we live b/c God is with us. This trip confirmed that to me more than anything.  

There is hope for Haiti.   

   
SHALOM!