Friday, November 30, 2012

The December E-Mail Challenge

This week, I was sitting in my office and I overheard two co-workers talking.

No, I wasn't eavesdropping--our offices are about thisclose together.

I listened as the two of them shared deeply personal, traumatic experiences that are now happening in their lives. I thought about how these circumstances will definitely have an impact on their holiday season. I remembered what it felt like when I was there.

In the days between Thanksgiving and New Years, people expect you to be happy. You're supposed to smile--even when you don't feel like it. You're supposed to greet everyone with a hearty "Merry Christmas," even on those days when you find yourself wondering how you are even going to make it through the day.

Sometimes, life happens and the holidays aren't so happy.

Perhaps that's not your story. Maybe things are going well in your life. Bills are paid (***PRAISE BREAK***), your family is doing well and you are feeling pretty content. But every once in awhile, you have one of those days. I call them Alexander days--they are just terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days where you feel like you can't do anything right. As you try to talk yourself through those difficult moments, you think about how nice it would be to hear a word of encouragement from one of your good friends. And sometimes, it does happen--that text message or e-mail out of nowhere from someone who just wanted you to know they were thinking about you and they appreciate you.

Shoutout to those of you who keep the Crackberry vibrating!

FBRs, that is the premise behind the December E-Mail Challenge that I've been hyping up on Facebook all week long. I don't ever want to get so caught up in my little world that I fail to take a moment to tell the people in my life what they mean to me. Besides, there's already far too much hate being spread in this world right now. I just feel like showing some love.

As for rules, there are none. Well, there's just one. Everyday in the month of December, I'll send an e-mail (or more than one) to someone in my life. After you read my e-mail and get all misty-eyed (LOL), my only request is that you pass on some encouragement to someone else. Maybe you can't commit to the whole month; maybe you aren't comfortable writing down these lovey-dovey expressions.  HOWEVER, you can take two minutes to tell someone in your life how they have affected your life in a positive way. And after you do that, send me an e-mail or a text and let me know.

Simple....but encouraging. That's who I am and that's who I will always be.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Click Restore

When God restored the fortunes of Zion, it was as if we were dreaming.
--Psalms 126:1

My beloved laptop is on its last leg. If I spend too much time writing or surfing the Internet, it overheats and automatically shuts down. I wait for a moment and reboot, praying I'll hear that Windows chime instead of looking at the dreaded blue screen.

When I open up my browser, I am greeted with a prompt:

Google Chrome unexpectedly shut down. To return to previously viewed pages, click Restore.
One click and all of my favorite sites are up and running again. 

Last night, I was doing my usual shut down/reboot/pray/click routine when I thought about how nice it would be to have a Restore button in my own life. You know, something like that Easy button which is on all of the Staples commercials. Wouldn't it be nice to know that on your really bad days, you could click restore and have everything go back to normal? I laughed to myself as I thought about what I would pay for that button. It would have truly come in handy on what was a typical Monday, fraught with worries, issues and drama. 

And then I realized I don't need that button. I have Psalms 126:1.

The aforementioned verse is my family's official favorite Scripture. Years ago, I was sitting in my office reading and I found myself in the book of Psalms. As I read this particular verse, it captured my heart. I knew I not only had to commit it to memory, I needed it to share it with my dad and my sister. I sent them a text with this verse and it just became a part of our lives. When we end a phone call with one another, sometimes we say "as if we were dreaming" instead of goodbye. It's even at the bottom of our most recent family portrait, a constant reminder that God can and will deliver us from oppression.

Oppression is an accurate description for what is going on in our world right now. Millions of people are jobless; millions more are homeless or facing eviction and foreclosure. At night, many people lie down and toss and turn for hours instead of finding rest. Their minds are filled with anxious thoughts and their bodies seized with fear. In the morning, those same thoughts occupy their minds and control their daily tasks. To them--to you; to me--I simply say "Psalms 126:1." 

I know God can turn it around. I know because I have experienced it for myself. I have been in situations where the only scenario I could picture in my mind ended with a bad outcome. But God came along and opened the trap door--the one escape I could not see; the door that held the path to my deliverance, my healing and an overflow of blessings. I was restored. It was so good, it almost felt unreal. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. And I believe He can do it again.

This morning, perhaps your life is overheating. You find yourself praying for just enough power to reboot. Now is not the time for timidity; this is a season of audacious faith. Of course God can reboot your life, but He can also do something else: He can click Restore. 

Be Encouraged.

As If We Were Dreaming, 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Being 30: The First Lesson

I woke up on Thursday morning expecting to feel different. I opened my eyes and waited. Other than sore hamstrings from the previous day's run, everything felt the same. I rolled over and watched the sun peak over the horizon, realizing this wasn't just an ordinary day. It was my birthday. I smiled.

30 freakin' years old. Ain't that something?

I got up and checked my phone, knowing I would be inundated with Facebook posts, text messages and voicemails. As I scrolled through the well wishes, I noticed one from  someone I call LOML (the love of my life). It was a simple message--the kind of birthday greeting most people give to their friends. 

Friends. That three word message made it abundantly clear what role I played in his life. On Thursday, I finally realized that there would never be a promotion in this relationship. The dream that I had held in my heart for years ended and I finally realized what we were to each other: friends. A word I normally cherish broke my heart into a million pieces on Thursday morning.

As I moped around my hotel room (singing Toni Braxton songs in my head because Shayla hates when I actually play them....HATER), I realized I had no reason to be upset. In fact, I had every reason to celebrate. Not only was I alive, I was free. LOML lurked in the shadows of all of my previous relationships. Looking back, I never gave 100 percent of myself to any of them, because I always believed that he just might realize how awesome I was and we would be together. When the other men noticed and walked away --rightfully so--I consoled myself with the knowledge that they just didn't "get me." Of course they didn't. I never allowed them access. I have read so many articles about emotionally unavailable men, but the truth of the matter is I have been emotionally unavailable too. 

If I am brutally honest with myself, I always knew what we were. I chose to leave that door open because it was so much easier than really allowing myself to be invested in love. In real life, you are obligated to tear down the walls around your heart. You have to risk rejection and hurt in order to receive the payoff of true intimacy. But when your mind is the paintbrush, it's very easy to edit out all of the insecurities, fears and not so pretty parts of the picture. I'd go so far as to say I was never even in love with LOML; I was in love with the fantasy of him. LOML is not a bad guy at all. In fact, he's one of the greatest men I've ever known. He's just not the one for me. 

So, if anyone asks me what was the best gift I received for my birthday, I would tell them the chocolate cake my dad bought me. Seriously, that was some good cake. But the second best gift is the closure I received. For the first time in my adult life, I feel like I am ready to not only give love, but receive it as well. My heart is open and I am absolutely thrilled at the possibilities. More than anything, I am grateful that all of this happened without compromising a friendship  that means so much to me. Now that would be a tragedy. 

LOML, if you're reading this (and I suspect you are): thank you. 

To everyone else, be encouraged. Today is a great day to loose the shackles of the past and start loving on your own terms.  

30 and Loving It, 

Sunday, June 3, 2012


When I was getting ready to leave for college, one of my high school teachers shared some very wise words with me:

If a guy asks you to go out to the field to see his horse, don't go. There is no horse. 

Here I am, years later....and the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Let me see if I have all the facts straight.

--You just met me.
--You want me to come over and "watch movies" at midnight.
--The television is in your bedroom.

Dude. Seriously?

Get mad if you want to, the answer is still no.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Just So You Know:14 Facts About Moi

Tell me about yourself. 

Whether on a date or a job interview, these four words strike terror in the hearts of the best of us. You want your answers to be humble, but self-assured. A chuckle is a great response; a blank stare, not so much. And how much do you reveal while keeping that air of mystery about you?

I'd like to say I've figured out how to do this, but the truth of the matter is it still makes my knees shake. Since the best way to get over a fear is to confront it, I've decided to share 14 things you may not know about me.

Plus, every true blogger knows this is the go-to post when you've run out of provocative topics for the week. Enjoy!

1.I like my coffee black. No splenda, no Vanilla Cupcake Frosting Creamer, just black. My theory: it's not supposed to taste good, it's supposed to wake you up.

2. To date, I have murdered three cars with my careless maintenance practices (RIP to Jameisha Jeep, Granny the Grand Am and the Canyonero, i.e., the Trooper). Thankfully, I've grown older and realized it just make sense to take care of what you've got. That and Appalonia reminds me when her oil needs to be changed.

 2a. Yes, all of my cars have had names. Appalonia got her name because she's petite, passionate...and really, she kind of looks like an apple from a distance.

3. El Debarge was the first love of my life. From the moment I saw him on Soul Train, I knew I wanted to forever dance to the beat of the rhythm of the night. But if he doesn't show up in Dallas next month, we're through. My heart can't take it!

4. I dislocated my shoulder at a bowling alley. When someone tells you not to cross the foul line, I suggest you listen.

5. I used to have this non-romantic fantasy about living without electricity. I thought it would be an adventure to survive on my own merits. That fantasy crashed and burned during the Great Snowstorm of 2002. I have no survival skills....and I still want to know how one can make Chicken-Fried Steak without electricity.

6. Lysol commercials make me sick to my stomach. In fact, the smell of Lysol makes me nauseous. I think it's because I remember it being sprayed at the day care to cover up the stench of dirty diapers. *gag*

7. Everyone who knows me knows I have always been a die-hard Pistons fan. Well, I'd like to officially announce our decision to part ways. This year, they looked like a junior high JV team on the court. I'm positive my three year-old nephew could drive the lane better than them.

8. My handwriting is weird. I start out writing in cursive, but I end up writing in print. When I'm mad, I underline everything and press so hard it bleeds through the pages. And because I'm left-handed, everything smudges.

9. I have the most sensitive skin on the planet, but I love buying the smell-goods. So, I have dozens of bottles of barely used laundry detergent, body wash and lotion. I would give them away, but I always convince myself that my skin will adapt. Thirty minutes and an itchy stomach later, I know I'm wrong.

10. Neither one of my parents were cheap, but I am. I still haven't traced the source of my penny-pinching ways.

11. I sleep with a stuffed animal over my head. I know a pillow would probably be more adult, but Roscoe just fits perfectly between my neck and my shoulders.

12. My dream vacation spot is St. Lucia.

13. The way I relate to people--and the way relate to me--is really as simple as which name they use to address me. It goes as follows:
        My given first name: These people know really know me. They get the uncensored version, which is both good and bad.
         K. Marie: This is the radio edit. The song is basically same, but you're left wondering why those lyrics don't exactly rhyme.
         Kay-Kay: If you value your life, you won't use this. Ever.

14. I prefer even numbers, so I'll end here. It was supposed to be twenty facts, know. A sista needs to leave y'all wanting more.

Be Encouraged,


Feel free to leave random facts about yourself in the comment section. It's even better if I don't know you from Adam! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Aftermath

For some reason, I felt nostalgic yesterday. I was looking through my bookcase for a book which would cleanse my literary palate of the abomination that is 50 Shades of Grey when I happened upon my senior scrapbook. I found so much I had forgotten--ticket stubs to Kirk Franklin concerts; birthday cards from my old pastor; even one of my mom's old business cards. It made me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

I was about to end my trip down memory lane when a picture fluttered to the ground. I picked it up and my face grew hot. It was me, sitting on top of my first car in my favorite outfit at the time--a Calvin Klein sweatshirt and Adidas sweatpants. Cute, but everything was in a size XXL and they were both skintight. I looked at my face and I saw that girl I used to be--lonely, scared and fat. And all my insecurities came rushing back to me.

My real-life friends could tell you the story: my senior year of college, I got fed up with not being able to shop at the same stores as my friends. So I bought the Tae-Bo tapes, stopped eating as much and hoped for the best. I went to see my doctor over Fall Break and she told me I lost 19 pounds. 19 became 50, 50 became 75. By the time it was all said and done, I had lost over 130 pounds. To quote one of my favorite movies: "That's like a whole Backstreet Boy!"

What no one ever talks about is the aftermath. For those of you who have recently decided to live a healthier lifestyle (congrats, btw), here are are a few things I learned in the process.

Losing weight didn't give me my "happily ever after."
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I believed that losing weight would make me irresistible to my crush at the time. Surely, he would finally see that the sweet homegirl could also have a bangin' body. I'd be a modern-day Cinderalla; he, my Prince Charming. Of course, it didn't happen. Though he was impressed with the weight loss, it didn't spark the chemistry. He still saw me as a homegirl, albeit a  smaller version. When I got over my disappointment,  I had to remind myself that losing weight was one of the most selfish things I have ever done, with good reason. I did this for ME, not for a wedding ring.

My body is not perfect and never will be.
I hate those infomercials. You know the ones I mean. In fifteen seconds, people go from marshmallow goo to the most chiseled person you've ever seen in your life. Abs, legs, butt, arms--everything is just perfect. And then I look at my own body. No matter how many tricep dips I do, I'll still have that jiggly action when I wave goodbye....which I wish could be transferred to my behind, because no amount of squats will give me the kind of perfectly round derriere that haunts men in their dreams.

But that's okay. For every imperfection, there are things that I've grown to love. Like, my neck. Or my collarbone. Or my legs, which look Tina Turner fierce in the right heels. They aren't perfect either, but it's all a part of me. Flaws and all, I love me some K. Marie.

I'm scared I'll go back.
Statistics say that more than eighty percent of people gain back all the weight they've lost (plus some) within a year. It's been around eight years since I started losing weight; give or take ten pounds, I've stayed in the same range. But that damn Trauma DJ haunts me. In my mind, I am just one order of fries away from blowing up; one extra helping of spaghetti away from those super-tight sweat pants. And that terrifies me.

Look, I know some larger women who look FANTASTIC at every size they have ever been. I mean, they shut down the fashion game even when they are just running to the grocery store. But that wasn't me. I didn't look good at my previous weight and I didn't feel good. And though my self-esteem is not based on the scale reading, I know I would be far less confident if I experienced a significant weight gain. So I'm always mindful of it. Always*.

Exercise is my passion. 
Over the years, I have tried everything--running, kickboxing, pole dancing, yoga and more. I love them all. Aside from the physical benefit, it's an emotional thing. When I am exercising, I can't think of anything else. I have to be in the moment, concentrating on reps or distance or breathing. That means for at least an hour a day, I'm not worried. I'm not stressed out. I'm just in the zone.

Don't get me started on endorphins. If I could bottle up that feeling and sell it, I'd be a billionaire.

Healthy food is just awesome. 
I remember being in elementary school and hearing my teachers bemoan their latest diet. Everyday, they would eat a salad and drink iced tea. No deviation whatsoever. They looked so miserable--and snapped at us kids so much, I actually felt bad for them. Almost made me want to share my Teddy Grahams with them.

Today, the possibilities are endless. I never had a mango or papaya  until I was an adult. Now, I crave them.  Ground turkey is the single greatest food creation in the 21st century, followed closely by spaghetti squash and mashed cauliflower.

I just wish they had never invented Red Velvet Ice Cream. Now THAT can lift up a bowed down head.

It's not a race--it's a journey. 
Everyday, I find something new to motivate me. I am consistently challenged to go beyond what I think is my breaking point. I am inspired because I have inspired other people. Sometimes, I do get discouraged, but I don't stay that way. There's always tomorrow--another chance to do better, work harder and make sound choices.

That's the great thing about journeys. They never end.

Be Encouraged,


*Except at Bam's house. I'd eat a fried shoe over there just because she made it. LOL

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

No Ordinary Love

This morning, I found myself listening to the incomparable Sade while rereading my thoughts on love, dating and relationships. I came to the conclusion that I don't know much.

Well, let me not say that. As I have grown older and experienced men on a personal level, my definitions have changed. If love were a Wikipedia entry, I’d be clicking that broom everyday.

 It’s not about showing off to my family and friends; nor is it about posting pics on Facebook or even filing my taxes with someone else. The recurring theme in my musings is that I want to be with someone who sees the real me.

The problem? I don’t really know who she is.

But everyday, I’m learning more. I actually bought and wore a red dress--it looked good on me. When I don’t feel like going out, I say that. When I do, I leave my insecurities and baggage at home. I have loved and lost. And I survived. I cry freely, knowing that tears are not a sign of weakness. Rather, they are nourishment for my blossoming heart.

I  won’t run anymore.  If I do, that would make me typical. Ordinary. You can use a whole lot of adjectives to describe me, but ordinary isn’t one.

And neither is my love.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Church Hurt

There's no hurt like church hurt.

I've heard this phrase over and over again in my life. And it makes no sense. Some might even call it an oxymoron. In the one place that should be filled with love, peace and understanding, why would the phenomenon of mean-spiritedness become so widespread....we have to name it?

Because it's true.

At times, I have found myself leaving the church parking lot with tears in my eyes. I would drive down the street, feeling heartbroken and replaying the offensive comments in my head. Maybe I'm wrong, I would reason. Maybe I'm just too sensitive. Maybe they were just speaking the truth in love.

Yet, I'd come back to this sacred place and find no apologies. Just more finger-pointing and shaming. These people who claimed to love me treated me more like a schoolyard bully. What's worse, I couldn't defend myself. If they were in my age range, this could have been settled in a come to Jesus meeting after morning worship. But these were grandmothers--my elders--who felt they had the right to kick me while I was down.

It left scars on my heart. That's the definition of a church hurt.

After church today, a dear friend came up to me with tears in her eyes. Before she even opened her mouth, I knew what had happened. Church hurt. Those same people who say they love you and want to help you, but use their mouths to tear you apart. To make you feel less than. My anger reached epic proportions as I listened to her story. It's been a long time since I've experienced church hurt, but all those feelings came rushing back to the surface. I wanted to march right back in the church, find the offenders and tell them off. It would start with how dare you and end with....well, some not so Christian words.

But I stopped myself. To tear them down would just be perpetuating the cycle. In fact, I actually feel sorry for the Senior Mean Girls. They probably believe they are doing the right thing. Someone in a previous generation probably talked to them the same way, so they think that's the way you're supposed to help people. 'Cause it obviously works. I mean, that's why people come back to church Sunday after Sunday--to experience verbal abuse, right? *sarcasm*

I will say this until I no longer have a voice: there is a way to say things. You have to treat people with the same dignity and respect you would want for yourself. And if you want people to talk to you like this...well, you probably need more help than I can give.

I know there are no specifics in this entry, but does there really need to be? We've all been there. Someone doesn't like the length of your dress or the way you wear your hair. This person thinks you should have been married by now and that person wants to know why you haven't had any kids. That one wants to know why you never speak to her. Maybe it's because she spends her days cursing your name to other members. The one in the corner thinks you try to run everything; the one at the front thinks you aren't doing enough. And the one on the right thinks you need to lose another twenty pounds....and tells you so every chance she can get.

What would Jesus do? Not this. Definitely not this.

Be Encouraged,


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Welcome To The Comfort Zone

I notice I've been getting a lot more blog hits recently....and I haven't written a fully detailed post in a few weeks. That makes me uncomfortable, like when one of your homeskillets shows up at the house on Saturday afternoon and you're wearing a shower cap and Eeyore pajamas. 

Since I'm all about challenges, I am challenging myself to consistently post here. I would say every single day, but let's be honest--it's playoff season. I doubt I can write award-winning entries while screaming obscenities at my television. 

As always, feel free to leave comments. 


You know what makes me uncomfortable? Talking on the phone. I am beyond grateful for the technology which allows me to type my thoughts instead of saying them. In my mind, I am incredibly witty in those 160 characters. On the phone, I suffer from what I like to call Peanut Butter Mouth Syndrome. There I sit, with my tongue to stuck to the roof of my mouth, nodding my head like the person on the other end can see what I'm doing. I use every excuse in the book to get off the phone as quickly as possible. 

Nope, I wasn't about to go for a run. I was still three blocks away from church. And my cell phone coverage was just fine--I just got tired of talking. Sorry. 

While we're on the subject, I hate when someone sends me the "I'm calling you in five minutes" text. Just call me. Don't make me sit there for 300 seconds, agonizing over what I'm going to say. 

Yes, it's really that bad. 

But, it's all in my mind. It's the same way I feel about public speaking, another one of the things on my uncomfortable list. Inside, I am a ball of nerves. I'm afraid I'm going to say the wrong thing or fall flat on my face--literally. I'm clumsy like that. Yet, every time I finish a presentation, people walk up to me and remark on how calm and self-assured I look while speaking. Likewise, I have friends who, for some unknown reason, think I'm just fantastic at phone conversations. They actually ask me to call them more!

Y'all sure you're talking to the right K. Marie?

The point is, we all have something that makes us supremely uncomfortable. While mine is talking on the phone, yours might be wearing shorts. Or eating dinner alone. Or applying for a new job. Or showing interest in someone of the opposite sex. But that topic requires a whole 'nother blog entry.

Whatever it is, just remember that perception is not reality. What you find nauseating, others find enticing. Overcoming your anxiety could be the push someone else needs to face their own issues. Your misery may very well become your ministry.

Like Tweet, you can call me. 

.....Unless it's after 11. 

Be Encouraged, 


Monday, May 21, 2012

Beef, Chicken...or Me?

What dollar amount do you spend on dinners before you start to expect a little sexual return on the investment? Or when you go out on dates, do you let them know that steak, lobster and shrimp are on the "sex tonite" part of the menu? 
--Facebook Status


By now, I've had my share of first dates. Through all of the hits and misses, my attitude towards food has always remained the same: I only order what I would order if I were paying for myself. Since I haven't had a steak since college and I only eat lobster in Shreveport (where it's all you can eat, thank you very much), I usually order chicken or pasta. 

From a fiscal perspective, I do see why men grumble when a woman he just met orders the lobster tail with filet mignon on the side. Times are hard for everybody...didn't I see you ordering water with extra lemons so you could make ghetto lemonade? Exactly. 

But, I digress. 

When I was younger, our church youth group used to have car washes to raise money for our summer activities. On the posters, we would always put "tips are ACCEPTED." One day, someone got a little confused and put "tips are EXPECTED." That day, we didn't raise nearly as much money as we had on previous occasions. Why? Because people enjoy having a choice. 


Anyway, I want to hear from you. What are your thoughts on this subject? Somebody help me understand!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Right To Grieve

It was Mother's Day, 1996.

I went to church because it was Youth Sunday. We sang all of the cute Mother's Day songs ("M is for the many things she gave me/O is only that she's growing old...") and I was fine. The greeters read a Mother's Day poem and handed out gifts to all of the mothers in attendance; I was good. Just before the sermon started, we were to leave the choir stand and go sit with our mothers--something we had always done.

Of course, everyone understood my situation. I could have sat with any of my friends' mothers. I could have sat with my Sunday School teacher. Even though my dad was in the pulpit, I know he would have been more than willing to sit in the congregation with me. And yet, my eyes were drawn to a seat on the right side of the church, about six rows back. A seat that had been vacant for about two months. I could almost see her sitting there, wearing a brightly colored hat and matching suit. I could almost smell her perfume--Red Door. I could almost see her smile as she reached out for me.

It was more than I could handle. A tornado of emotions swept through me. I tried to make it out of the sanctuary before the tears started, but just as I reached the back wall, violent sobs overtook my body. I wept--for the moments we shared and the moments we never would. For my sisters and my dad. For her. For me.


In America, we have what is known as the Bill of Rights--ten constitutional amendments created by our forefathers, giving us the freedom to live our lives without fear of retaliation. A lot of excellent points are covered: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to a speedy trial and the right to bear arms. However, if I ever had the opportunity to stand before Congress, I would argue that we need an additional amendment.

Arguably, we need more than that--but today, I'm not talking about politics.

You have the right to grieve.

You have the right to protect your heart from additional wounds. 
Some years, I go to church on Mother's Day. Most years, I don't. For me, Mother's Day is just one of those occasions that has been difficult to publicly acknowledge. I make no apologies for handling it my way--you shouldn't either.

You have the right to cry. 
If you've ever found yourself on a grief journey, you know that some of the strangest things will bring you to tears. Once, I was at a barbecue and I cried because the potato salad reminded me of my mom's. Let the tears flow.

You have the right to take your time.
We live in a world of instant gratification. Modern technology has allowed us to speed up everything from cooking to communication. But there is no shortcut for grief. You have to allow yourself to feel everything--the hurt, the anger, the sadness and even the guilt--before you can find that place of true acceptance.

You have the right to laugh.
The beauty of grief is that it is not always sad. There are moments when I laugh so hard about some of my mom's quirks, which seem to have become mine. I write in the margins of books. I can't braid hair at all. I am a really bad driver, though I've never come close to taking out a gas pump. I have more pens in my purse than I will ever need in a lifetime...and I ALWAYS lose my keys. I am definitely Regenia's child.

You have the responsibility to help others. 
In the ninth grade, one of my favorite teachers sent for me during lunch. She asked me to talk to another one of her students whose mother had just died. I was nervous. What could I say that could possibly help this girl? I sat there for awhile, collecting my thoughts. Eventually, I started talking...and talking.....and talking. When I stopped, she didn't say anything. I was kicking myself for making the situation worse, but then she reached out and hugged me. In the midst of that hug, the lightbulb above my head clicked on and I finally understood.

In the past sixteen years, there have been times when my heart ached so much, I wanted to die.  I just didn't think I could handle anymore heartache and pain. But I made it--not because I'm so great or perfect, but only because I serve a God who loved me enough to save me from myself. My gratitude is in my service to others. I will always write about this. I will always talk to those who are going where I have already been. I will always lift up in prayer those who are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

I will always encourage, because I have been encouraged.

Whatever loss you are dealing with today--a family member or a friend; a job or a relationship--be encouraged. From one battered (and healed) heart to another, you can make it. That's your right too.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Show & Tell

I am so guilty of reading all of these silly articles, studies and tips about how to analyze a man’s behavior.

 If he stands on his right leg and rubs his belly four times, that means he likes you. If he blinks once, winks twice and whistles "Yankee Doodle," he's going to ask you to marry him by the end of the year!

Silly example, right? Well, that’s the way most of these articles actually read. We are bred to believe that a man is incapable of showing true love and affection; we must read between the lines. We become Love Detectives, searching for the no that really means yes.

Sound crazy? It is. 
Cosmo is making us nuttier than a fruitcake at Christmas.

Do me favor: the next time you're on a date, really listen to what he's saying. Look past that dazzling smile; try not to get blindsided by his cologne (Lord, help if it's Prada....) and really listen to the words coming out of his mouth.  Chances are, you'll hear one of the following phrases:

I’m not really looking for a relationship right now.
If you’re over the age of consent, you know exactly what this means. You can either accept his terms or gracefully bow out, because you are looking for a relationship. And sorry, sis--as great and fantastic as you are, you will not change his mind. He might want a relationship….eventually….possibly….maybe….

Just not with you.

I’m just having fun right now. A passive-aggressive variation on the first statement. Even though we know what this means (inbox me if you don’t), I like to play clueless to see if he’s going to admit it.

Fun? You mean we’re not having fun right now? *Blank Stare*

I don’t see myself getting married.
You can take it as an issued challenge if you want to, but odds are good that you will end up being The One Before The One. That, dear friends, requires a separate blog entry.

I don’t think children are for me. 
Self-explanatory….unless you just have an all-consuming desire to meet Maury Povich in person.

I don’t have any children. *three weeks later* So, I was taking my son to the zoo….
No. No. No. I happen to know a lot of fathers---older and younger; black and white; wealthy and not so wealthy. The ones who are involved in their childrens’ lives? Honey, you can’t shut them up. They show pictures, tell you what they did in school…everything you could ever want to know. Why? Because real dads are proud. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

You’re not like anyone I’ve ever met.
This is one of the best compliments a man can give a woman(or vice versa). Graciously acknowledge it and move on. Don’t ask for a bulleted list on why he made that statement. That puts you right back in the everybody else category.

I’ll call you.
Trust me--no secret formula exists. If he says he’ll call you and he does, then he is indeed a man of his word. If he does not, he just showed you who he was. Believe him or not.

SN: Men who pick up the phone instead of hiding behind text messages will always have a special place in my heart.

I love you.

Not to be confused with:

Love ya.
Luv u.
I *heart* you.

Not sent in a text message.
Not posted on Facebook or Twitter.

 Real love. Cue Mary J. Blige (No Burger King, please).

 Be Encouraged, and feel free to add on to this list in the comment section.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Advice For The Teenage Tater Tots (Part I)

Over at, Champ posted two very insightful pieces on advice he would give to his teenage son and daughter. As I read, I started to think about what I would say to my own children in that crucial coming of age moment.

One of my favorite quotes reminds us that we stand on the shoulders of greatness, so I fully expect my children to be greater than me. With that in mind, here is the first of two lists I put together for my babies.

I don't even have them yet and I already want them to be teenagers!

Dearest Journey (or Sydney...or whatever name I come up with between now and then):

1. Step out on faith.

This world can be a scary place; but what's even scarier is the mental roadblocks we tend to place in front of us. When you are faced with an opportunity to do what you've never done or go where you've never been, take it. Trust that if God brought you to it, He will bring you through it. Never let fear keep you from living your dreams.

2. Find your true-blues.

These are the people who've seen you at your best, but still love you at your worst. They are the ones who you can call at anytime and they will come running. They hold you accountable for your actions...and sometimes, they make you mad because they are so right. Cherish them. Thank God for them. Most of all, give back everything that you have received from these beautiful relationships.

3. Don't fight.

There is never a good reason for you to lay hands on anyone else. If you are having a disagreement, solve the problem with your words and not your fists.

3a. Don't put yourself in a man's position.

If you do, you better be prepared for any consequences that result.

4. When it comes to rejection, shake it off.

Look, every man won't like you. But guess what? You won't like every man! Don't be offended when a man tells you that you are not his preference; be grateful that he moved out of the way to make room for the one who is supposed to capture your heart.

5. Get a pedicure. Often. Especially in the summertime.

Cracked heels are not the business.

6. ALWAYS practice safe sex.

Now, I am a huge advocate for abstinence. Sex creates far too many adult emotions, decisions and consequences. BUT, if you're going to do it, use a condom EVERY TIME. And if you're too scared to ask a man about protection, you don't need to be having sex at all.

6a. You do not have to be polite when it comes to your body.

You don't owe a man anything. If you do not want to have sex with a man, you say NO and mean it. If he can't take that no for an answer, just call me. I'll help him remember the definition.

7. Keep a journal.

It's so awesome to look back and read your life story in your own words. You will laugh at some of the things you thought were super-important; you'll be grateful for the growth you have experienced. Writing in a journal is the most uncensored you will ever be in this life, so take the time to get it all down on paper.

And leave it there.

7a. Don't post everything online.

PLEASE don't be that girl who chronicles every broken heart/argument/crisis/mundane activity with a Facebook status. People might "like" it, but they'll grow tired of you and your antics.

8. Love yourself.

Don't look to the world to define your beauty--write that definition for yourself. Love every part of your mind, body, soul and spirit. You are one of a kind, fearfully and wonderfully made by God Himself. Celebrate who you are, always.

8a. Love your hair!

I have had every hair color ever invented (except blonde); I've had a relaxer and I've gone natural; I have shaved off every strand and let it grow long. And yes, I have experimented A LOT with weaves and extensions. At the end of the day, I love this thick, unruly, sometimes curly and always nappy stuff on my scalp. It's what God gave me and I sure do appreciate it!

Oh, and don't worry if you mess up along the way. It always grows back.

9. Never stop learning.

Knowledge is more than sitting in a classroom, reciting facts and listening to lectures. Everyday, you will be afforded the opportunity to learn something that will shape your morals, ethics and even your faith. Take advantage of it. Take notes too. In life, the quizzes are always open book.

10. Know that I love you.

Even if you disregard everything I have mentioned, I will never stop loving you. When you fall, I'll catch you. When you cry, I'll wipe your tears. When you smile, I'll smile harder. You are the one I've dreamed of and prayed for all the days of my life. Whatever you do will make me proud to be your mother.

Even if you go to OSU. *cringes*

11. Be Encouraged.



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pieces Of Me

So when you look at my face
You gotta know that I'm made
Of everything, love and pain
These are the pieces of me

--Ledisi, "Pieces of Me"

Yesterday, I went out to lunch with my brother...which turned into dinner because we run our mouths way too much, but I digress. As we blabbed about everything under the sun, the topic turned to the way people perceive me. My brother said something that stuck with me for the rest of the day:

"There's your forward personality--quiet, laid back, relaxed vibe--almost shy. But there's this other side of you that eventually comes out--outgoing, sarcastic, all of that stuff. It really does take time to get to know you."

I can't stand it when he's right.

The truth is (no Fantasia), there are times when I feel like I have to be tough. We'll call this side of me Sheba. Sheba does not take any nonsense from anyone. She walks into the room and dares anyone to disregard her presence. Sheba is arrogant--she knows she has a lot to offer, so she expects respect in every setting. Got something to say? You better say it good. The very second you pause to take a breath, Sheba will swoop in and cut you down to size. Sheba just doesn't have time to play games with anyone.

Then, there's Tender Heart. Tender Heart just wants everyone to be happy. She goes out of her way to make sure people know they can count on her. If you need something done and Tender Heart's schedule is completely booked, she'll find the time to do it. She doesn't like to let anyone down. She DESPISES confrontation. She's easily offended. She's even a little insecure. Tender Heart cares what people think about her, perhaps too much.

I realize I'm no different from the millions of people who inhabit this planet. If you're honest with yourself, there are at least two sides to your personality. However, my problem lies in my inability to mix and match so people get an accurate depiction of K. Marie.

Translation? Lately--in my career, friendships and ESPECIALLY in the dating process--I feel like I've shown too much Sheba and not enough Tender Heart.

It used to be quite different. Back in the day, Tender Heart ruled me. I allowed people to use me up until there was nothing left. I found myself in a pit of depression so slippery and treacherous, I wondered if I would ever break free. When I did, I promised myself I would never go back to that place.

Sheba seemed like the answer to my prayers. I would just use my abrasive side to prevent people from getting close to me. I would hurt people before they could hurt me. To be honest, I would have probably kept going on this path had it not been for a conversation with one of my newest friends. He referred to me as The Mean Twin, and I took offense.

"You're way off base, homeskillet," I replied. "I'm the nicest person you will ever meet."
A small, still voice in my heart offered its own reply:

If that were true, you wouldn't have to say it. Your actions would show it.


I'm on the playground of life; Tender Heart and Sheba are on the see saw. Most days,they know how to balance themselves. Sometimes, they don't. One gets an urge to go higher than the other one. When that happens, I don't yell or get upset; I just call the ORIGINAL manufacturer and ask to speak to The Carpenter. After all, no one knows the product better than Him. I explain my situation--the sides won't stay balanced. He patiently listens and then tells me the solution: adjust the settings in the middle. Turn it to the left for forgiveness; to the right for patience and understanding. Soon enough, everything is the way it's supposed to be.

To those I have offended, I apologize. To those who have hurt me, I forgive you. My name is not Sheba or Tender Heart, it's K. Marie. That's who you should get to know. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Be Encouraged,


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Single Manifesto

I really don't like blogging about being single. In my humble opinion, it's discussed way too much...and with the current state of the world, there are more important topics which deserve my musings. However, I have experienced some things in recent weeks that I just need to get off of my chest.

If you can relate, snap your fingers one time.

It's a high(heeled) way to Heaven

When people ask me how tall I am, always respond "six feet even--without the heels." I have to add the qualifier because when I'm not wearing tennis shoes, I'm wearing heels. To me, they are just more comfortable. When I wear flats, something in my body mechanics causes me to turn into Steve Urkel, tripping all over myself. In heels, I'm Stephan Urkelle--suave, confident and self-assured.

If you ask any woman, she'll tell you the same thing: the right shoes just add an extra sway to your hips. They make your legs appear infinitely longer. They fix your posture. They just make you feel downright sexy.

I said that to say that it is a complete turn-off to date someone who thinks I'm going to stop wearing heels. Of course I'm "tall enough," but that's not why women wear these death-defying contraptions. Heels just make you feel good.

So, if you want to be with me, you have two options: grab the step-ladder and accept that my heels are a part of me...or keep searching for that woman who thinks flip-flops are appropriate dinner attire.

Perish the thought.

So Yesterday

Recently, I got a call from my ex. He informed me that he still loved me and that he was ready for us to start dating again.

Due to the fact that youngsters might be reading this, I'll refrain from using the words I really want to use.

For the life of me, I do not understand men with this Romeo and Juliet fantasy. Trust me, I was not waiting in the window for him (or anyone else) to come whisper sweet-nothings in the midnight hour. In the YEARS since we have parted ways, I've lived. I have laughed and loved; made new memories and truly discovered how exciting life is when I step outside of my comfort zone. I forgave him and yes, I still pray for him. However, I don't pray for him to come back to me--I pray the he will find peace and love in his own life.

I know what becomes of the brokenhearted. They heal. And move on.

Brother-friends (and sister-friends, because I suspect some of y'all are doing this too), deflate your ego balloon just a bit. If you are really meant to be with her or him, God will navigate your paths back together. Otherwise, leave it alone. You're just ripping scabs off of a healed heart...and that ain't love.

It's just TWO things

I realize I'm not going to win any fans by saying this, but I'm going to say it anyway. If you can only talk about sports and sex, we won't be dating. Period.

Look, I love sports. I'm a basketball fiend, and even though my bracket was toast in the first round, you better believe I'll be watching to see how the Final Four ends.

As for the other subject...well, that's for me to know.

The point is, there are a million other things to discuss. Can we talk about politics? Can we discuss the current state of music? Can we talk about why the Trayvon Martin case is stirring up feelings long since buried?

If dating is supposed to lead to a relationship (AND IT IS), I want to know that I can unwind with you; that you have an opinion on something other than Sportscenter.

Even my three year old nephew asks me about my day.

Ready for love

Am I? Sure.

But being ready for love and desperate for affection are two entirely different matters. I'm not afraid to be single. In fact, I enjoy the time I spend with ME--writing, painting toenails, dreaming and just being fabulous. I don't need a speech telling me what I need to do to get or keep a man...'cause I still believe it will happen when it's supposed to happen.

For your sanity, I hope you feel the same way.

Still Encouraged,


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I Know Him (For Trayvon)

Like most of the country, I didn't know Trayvon Martin. Yet, my heart knows him.

Trayvon is the many young men I've worked with, both at school and at church. Little boys who dared me to take off my shoes and race them in the summertime; little boys who quickly understood that yes, Ms. Kayla or no, Ms. Kayla were the only acceptable responses to my queries. Little boys who are now becoming young men, gangly limbs and squeaky voices a sign of their impending adulthood. They still hug me, still send me Facebook messages and ask me to pray with them. Whether they ask or not, I always do.

Trayvon is any one of my guy friends--upstanding, compassionate, educated men who still have to explain that wearing basketball shorts, hoodies or locs does not make you a criminal.

Trayvon is my son--the one I ask God even now to give me the strength to raise. A good friend of mine said she wept when she found out she was having a son, for she knew that raising a Black man in this world would be no easy task. I agree. My heart grows weary as I think of his predisposition to unfairness and discrimination. I'll grasp his little hand in mine and tell him that he is so much more than a statistic, hoping and praying that someone doesn't take his life just because he "fits the profile."

That's why tears fill my eyes as I listen to the 911 calls and hear a child pleading for his life. Trayvon is so many of the men I have known and loved.

So, I'll keep talking about this. I will sign every petition. I will protest. I will pray for every one of my nephews, my "babies" and even those with whom I have no connection, because I want them to live. I want them to experience life--blazing trails, learning from their mistakes and conquering their fears along the way.

I never want to feel this way again.

Justice for Trayvon.

Be Encouraged,


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Crazy Love

I'm going to blame this overly emotional, sappy post on a few factors: the weather, my Slow Jams Slacker station and Girl Talk with some dear friends of mine. Therefore, this post will self-destruct in 24 hours.

It has you doing the things you said you would never do.

It makes even the most cynical among us sigh when the credits roll on yet another sappy Disney movie.

This is the reason...

The reason why true R&B music will never die.

The reason why Hallmark, Tiffanys and Godiva became household names.

The reason why you finally decide to let down your guard, relinquishing the key to your heart with such quickness one wonders if you ever even really possessed it.

It is the reason why you will always, without fail, put everything on the line. Even if this feeling has an expiration date, you will finally know why he smiles and tilts his head in a bashful manner; why she blushes the lightest shade of pink and has an extra bounce in her step.

It is the reason why you can't help but watch the elderly couples at the mall....why you ALWAYS cry at weddings....why you are able to bounce back from heartache.

It's love.

And there's enough for all of us.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Knowledge Is (Still) Power

"Steve Jobs did more for me than Martin Luther King."

One day, I was perusing Twitter and found the aforementioned quote. My face grew hot as I thought about the ramifications of this statement, made by a young Black man, no more than 20 years of age.

In his own right, Steve Jobs was indeed a great man. This self-professed college dropout took the technological world by storm, leaving behind a legacy which will always be synonymous with the words Apple, iPod and iPhone.

But he was no Martin Luther King.

I wanted to reach through my phone and grab this young man's hand, taking him on a journey through our history. I would take him to restaurants, malls and movie theaters,where we would only be allowed to use back entrances (if we were allowed entry at all). I would show him all of the major businesses and corporations; Fortune 500 companies where the only title we could aspire to have was janitor. I would take him back to those scary moments when the Greenwood section of Tulsa was set on fire; when men were beaten and hung just for looking at someone the wrong way; when churches were bombed and little girls were murdered in their Sunday best; when every night was spent in fear, unsure of what violence the moonlight would bring.

I would show him my ancestors--his ancestors--down on their knees, simply praying for a better day.

As Black History Month draws to a close, it is time for us to look back once more. We must remember the men and women who dreamed, created, achieved and sacrificed; we must honor them by building on their legacy and not becoming complacent. Many doors have been opened and glass ceilings shattered, but there are more doors and ceilings to be addressed.

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom.
--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Freedom, change and equality. These basic tenets of humanity will always trump an iPhone.

Be Encouraged,


Monday, February 6, 2012

What Are YOU Bringing To The Table?

There's a running joke among my family and friends: I, K.Marie, cannot cook.

Now, let me clear up that fallacy. I can make a few dishes and I specialize in baking; however, I don't like to cook. While some chefs can step into a kitchen and birth works of art (S/O to Bammy Dy), I'm just left feeling like that time could have been better spent reading a book. Maybe even a book about cooking. I'll look that up in the Kindle store.

Every once in awhile, I am invited to dinner parties. Whether a casual potluck or a four-course epicurean delight, I never ring the host's doorbell empty-handed. I may have a bottle of Moscato or a bag of ice; if I forget to run by the store, I volunteer for kitchen duty, making sure the pots are spic and span in appreciation for a meal well done. Call it my Southern roots, but I just believe in bringing something to the table.

You know I'm going somewhere with this, right?

Have you ever dated someone who had a list of the most rigorous demands?

Your credit score can't be any less than 720; you must be within the average range on the BMI chart; your car must be newer than 2008 AND have less than 75,000 miles...and I'm going to need a letter of recommendation from your current employer, your Little League baseball coach and two degreed family members.

Weird, but it's okay. We all have our opinions and standards. However, what makes me roll my eyes until only the whites are showing is when you ask the aforementioned person a very simple question: what are you bringing to the table?

*sucks teeth* Don't worry about what I'm bringing to the table. You're just supposed to love me for me!

They came to the dinner party empty-handed.

I'm not saying anyone needs to be perfect. We all have flaws--even the fabulous and talented writer of this blog has a few skeletons in her closet. Hopefully, we all find that person who is willing to overlook our habit of drinking everything but the last corner of milk and putting it back in the fridge.

I mean, there might be a recipe that calls for a teaspoon of milk.

In the process of seeking, we must be honest not only with our potential partners, but also with ourselves. Sometimes, the qualities we see as must-haves have nothing to do with the person and everything to do with our own insecurities. How do I know? I've been there.

When I was about twenty-two, I made a Husband List: four handwritten pages of the things I thought I needed in a life partner. I tucked it in my bible (next to the passage about God granting us the desires of our heart) and prayed that God would allow this man to come into my life.

Fast-forward a few years, to the moment when I met Mr. Looks Good On Paper. He said all the right things; he met so many of my "requirements" that it seemed like he had written the list himself. And I fell in love...

...with the way people looked at us when we were together.

What I really expected was for him to change my life--to make me thinner, richer and desirable to the whole world. No one can bear that weight. When he ended our relationship, I couldn't even be surprised. I knew I had to work on me. I set about changing the things I could change and accepting myself for where I was in the journey. I dated; I had fun. I made mistakes. But more than anything, I learned to let go of the list. For me, love is more than a set of qualifications; you just know.

You've just received another invitation to a dinner party; this time, love is the host. Please, please, please bring more than your appetite. If I may, I'd suggest a gift basket of the following:






Your heart.

It goes with everything.

Be Encouraged,


Friday, February 3, 2012

It's A Black Thing...You Wouldn't Understand It

I love being Black. There exists in our community a collective unconscious which, in my opinion, is second to none. Don't believe me? Ask any twenty, thirty or even forty-something what show they never missed on Saturday morning.

Soul Train. RIP Don Cornelius.

As fun as it is to sit around and recount the days of our youth; as inspiring as it is to observe Black History Month, celebrating the achievements of our forefathers and present-day leaders, there is something else that binds us together:

You never forget the first time you were targeted based simply on the color of your skin.

I was in kindergarten, playing with my peers in the sandbox. One of my classmates looked me in the eye and said: "My mommy said that you're a n*gger." Even though I was only four at the time, I knew that word wasn't right. I did not like the way it made my heart feel, nor the waves of anger that washed over me.

Unfortunately, I have felt that feeling more than a few times in my twenty-nine years. There was the time a university representative was quoted as saying "there aren't enough of you people on campus to observe Martin Luther King Day." Or the day I was dragged out of the music store and searched because, according to the security guard, I had been seen stealing from Eddie Bauer.

Of course, my favorite has been workplace racism, where people assume you only got the job because of affirmative action. You are officially the spokesperson for the entire African-American community, so you better have a good answer as to why our names are hard to pronounce (SN: if you can't pronounce Kayla, I don't know what to tell you) or where they can obtain the official copy of President Obama's birth certificate. And if you have a complaint, it's not really valid. You're just pulling the race card.

I'm strong. I know that who I am is so much more than my melanin. My whole life has been about defying stereotypes and breaking boundaries. But every time I hear those racially-motivated words, I'm drawn back to the sandbox.

And I hurt.

Is racism here to stay? I hope not. I am looking forward to the day when no one ever has to experience that all too familiar whirlwind of shame, betrayal and anger. But until then, I have learned how to cope with racism. You might want to get a pen and write this down so you don't forget.


Keep living.

I will inform with my words, not retaliate with my fists.

I will vote in every election. My voice will be heard.

I will continue to teach the next generation that mediocrity is never enough...not when extraordinary is within your reach.

I will not perpetuate the cycle by discriminating against others.

I will not abide in fear.

I will forgive.

I will pray that God helps us to see one another as He sees us:

Red and yellow
Black and white
All are precious in His sight

If you want to, you can understand.

Be Encouraged,


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Theft Protection

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
--Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

When I was a teenager, I had a bad habit of leaving my purse in my car. Because I tend to be forgetful, I thought I was better off leaving it in the one place I knew I would be on a daily basis.

One day, I walked out to my driveway and noticed various bits of papers strewn in the grass. Upon further inspection, I saw these were things which had been in my purse. Sure enough, I opened the door and discovered my purse was gone. I had to go through the arduous task of obtaining a new driver's license, student ID, Social Security and bank cards. For me, the consequences were over and I had heard my lesson; that is, until I tried to apply for my first credit card. I soon discovered that whoever had stolen my purse graciously helped themselves to my credit, ordering cell phones and applying for loans across the state. Before I was even old enough to rent a car, I was the victim of identity theft.

These days, I guard my purse like a hawk. I don't go anywhere without checking and double-checking that my purse is either on my shoulder or sitting right next to me. If anybody even so much as places a pinky on my satchel, I have a can of Mace with their name written all over it.

But these are just material things. What about the things that really matter?

What about our hearts?

I have been guilty of granting unlimited access to my heart. In friendships, with co-workers and even with people I've dated, I have allowed people to take as much of me as they wanted. I have poured out everything I had--time, money, energy, encouragement, love--to the point where there was nothing left. I thought that was what a Christian is supposed to do; give and give until you can't give anymore.


Sorry. Wrong answer.

This verse in Proverbs reminds us that our heart is our most prized possession. It is the source of our lives, and we should treat it accordingly. Now, that's not to say there is anything wrong with being an encouragement to others. In my case, that's just who I am and that will never change. However, when you're dealing with "heart thieves," there comes a moment when you must ask yourself:

Are they making more withdrawals than deposits?

Let's be honest--not everyone is sincere. There are people who, God bless 'em, don't know how to do anything but use others. They operate through guilt trips, deceit and (my personal pet peeve) passive-aggressiveness. And when they have taken all that they believe you have to offer, they will walk away, more than likely taking with them a piece of your heart.

You get mad. You cry. You feel like everyone in the whole world is against you. You feel like the answer to this current heartache is to place your heart under lock and key and never allow anyone to get close again. FBRs, there's no need to be so drastic. All you have to do is learn how to control who has access.

A lot of people I know have a general idea about where I live. A smaller group can tell you my address. My inner circle knows when I'll be at home. But only two people other than me have the keys to my house.

Guard your heart. In this life, you only get one.

Be Encouraged,


Monday, January 30, 2012

Single, Not Desperate

I'm single, not desperate.

If you ask an experienced runner for advice, the very first thing they will say is to pace yourself. There is no way anyone can keep a sprinter's pace for twenty miles, and it is downright crazy to even try. When you run too fast, you either end up injuring yourself or you become so worn out that you lose your desire to run at all.

Someone will catch that in a minute.

Pace yourself, work on your stride and toss that stopwatch in the nearest trash can. Whether you finish first, last or somewhere in the middle, the victory lies in getting there.

I'm single, not desperate.

Why is he with her and not with me?

Maybe it's the way she laughed at his jokes. Maybe it's the way his name sounds when she says it. It might even be because she's a Lakers fan (though I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to date someone with such poor taste).

Does it really matter?

You could write a dissertation on all the reasons why you believe he chose her, but it won't earn you the Pulitzer. Instead, you'll be rewarded with a non-stop playlist from the Trauma DJ, playing your greatest hits:

You're not good enough.

You're not smart enough.

You will never find love.

Don't fall for it. Change the channel before the commercial break ends. There is victory in letting go.

I'm single, not desperate.

In fourth grade, I was head over heels in love with Arthur Miller. I did everything to get his attention: I teased my bangs within an inch of their life; I borrowed my sister's purple leather jacket to wear at recess. I even made him brownies, though unsweetened cocoa with no sugar probably made them taste like mud pies. When none of that worked, I went to my fail-proof plan....

I chased him across the playground, tackled him and tied him up with my jump rope.

Now, we're older and wiser;yet some of us are still using the same tactics to garner the attention of the opposite sex. Maybe we're not tying people up with jump ropes, but we are tearing others down in a misguided attempt to call attention to ourselves. In the words of Dr. Phil: "How's that workin' out for you?"

Grow up. You know I'm serious because I ended with a preposition.

I'm single, not desperate.

During yesterday's sermon, my pastor-dad recounted a portion of our family testimony. As he detailed some of the darkest days in my twenty-nine years, I couldn't help but cry. I was not crying because of what I have lost; I was crying because of all that I have gained. Sometimes, you need to hear someone else tell your story before you realize what God has truly done in your life.

Like you, I'm human. There are days--and especially nights--when I struggle with loneliness. There are adventures I want to experience with the love of my life and no one else. There are times when I see couples very much in love and my heart feels like it's in a vise grip.

But then, I remember.

I remember all the many times in my life when I cried out to God and He heard me. Not only did He supply my needs, He did so in a way that left me speechless. He has healed my heart repeatedly, and even when I had to go through the fire, He made sure I came out unscathed. If God says He is writing my love story, I'm going to step back and let Him do it. Though I'm cold with a pen, my skills pale in comparison to the author of love.

The next time someone inquires about your relationship status, don't just tell them you're single. You are so much more than that! Make eye contact, smile, use your professional voice and confidently proclaim:

I am single, not desperate.

Shirts and bumper stickers will be available in March.

Be Encouraged,


Friday, January 20, 2012

I Didn't Mean To Turn You...Off

Inspired by today's blog at Check 'em out!

We are all very fond of listing the reasons why men or women should date us, but what about the things that would make someone run for the hills? If dating is like a job interview, I might as well come up with an answer for that ridiculously frustrating question: What is your biggest weakness?

I promise, I just have a few.

1. I'm arrogant/vain.

From the moment I was born, I spent more time with my dad than anyone else. When I would cry at night, he'd take me out of my crib, walk downstairs and stand in front of the hallway mirror so I could look at myself...and I'd stop crying. Seriously.

Not much has changed since 1982--I still make sure the screen door is closed all the way so I can catch a full-length glimpse of myself before I head to work. I study my walk as I pass mirrored buildings; I check my reflection in the rearview mirror more than I check for other cars.

In short, I love me. Spassusafa.

2. I'm spoiled.

I promised I would never share this, but for the sake of full disclosure, I'll let y'all in on a little secret. Every morning, Shayla makes me coffee. I don't mean just turning on the machine...I mean she makes it, pours me a cup and brings it to my room for me. Of course, that makes her a completely awesome sister (LOVE YOU, BESTIE), but I realize it's rather abnormal. Okay, and it's kind of selfish too. I can't really expect my husband to bring me coffee in bed...can I?

If you're willing to do that, send me an e-mail, text, Facebook message, Twitter DM, BBM or a note tied to a pigeon. Thank you in advance.

3. I'm cheap(ish).

This has been well-detailed in previous blog entries, but I am the GREAT bargain hunter. If it's not on sale, don't even bother talking about it. If it is on sale, and especially if it's on clearance, you've got my attention. There are few things in this life that bring me more joy than seeing a red slash on a price tag.

But I will pay full price for some things. Like....uhhhhhhh......hmmmmmm......

Let me get back to you on that.

4. 96% of rap music makes me ill.

Try to see it from my perspective, folks: words are my life. I can't get so wrapped up in the beat that I fail to hear the ignorance flowing through my speakers. It doesn't move me the way a song from Ledisi, Kem or John Legend does.

I do like that new Big Sean song though. Brings out the latent chickenhead tendencies in me.

5. I'm not a night owl.

I get up at 5:00 to exercise and I never take naps. Contrary to popular belief, I can stay up past 11:00--it's just that you'll see a very different side of me late in the midnight hour. The censor button is off, and...well,I won't ruin the surprise for you.

6. In spite of it all, I still have love for the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Pistons.

Need I say more?

So, if you ever see me walking down the street with some man--and I'm holding a steaming hot mug of coffee and wearing my Pistons t-shirt--go ahead, give him a head nod. Pat him on the back. Start a slow clap. He will have earned it.

Be Encouraged,


Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Instruction Manual

For Christmas, I received a bunch of new much so that I finally had to add a wireless network to my cell phone package.

At first, things were going well. I added the network to my new tablet and soon, I was downloading all the games, books and music I could handle. The network even showed up on my cell phone. But for some reason, I just couldn't get my laptop to jump on board. I tried everything--a reboot, a diagnostic check of my wireless card, even disabling all other connections except the new network. And yet, I still saw the red X next to the internet connection. It became the bane of my existence.

In a last ditch effort, I rummaged through my junk closet and found the box for the router. Inside was the instruction manual, still in pristine, untouched condition. I fumbled through the pages until I found a section on laptops. As I read the words and followed the illustrations, I had to suppress the urge to slap myself on the forehead.


I had spent nearly three weeks trying to figure this out on my own; three minutes after I read the instructions, my laptop was up and running at lightning speed.

You know I'm going somewhere with this, right?

Everyday, we do the same thing. We depend on our human intellect to help us wade through the murky waters of depression, relationship woes, major career decisions and financial setbacks. We've got all the answers we could ever need in our minds; we say "no thank you" when help is offered. We've got this.

And yet, we remain frustrated. Perplexed. Confused.Stomach rumbling. Teeth grinding. Head aching. As the clock rolls toward 3 in the morning, we're sitting on the edge pondering that age-old question: Why isn't this working?

The answer is simple. It (whatever "it" is in your life) is not working because you haven't read the instruction manual.

Go find it. Maybe it's in your junk drawer or in the trunk of your car. Perhaps it's on the mantel in your living room, collecting dust bunnies. I'm not judging. Wipe them off and start reading. There's even a troubleshooting section in the back if you're not exactly sure where to go. When that connection is established (or reestablished), please don't facepalm. Just remember the next time you find yourself in a situation far bigger than you, you have help. You have the instruction manual.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all thy ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.
--Proverbs 3:5-6

Be Encouraged, y'all.