September 2017’s 6 Grateful Things List

September 2017's 6 Grateful Things List

Hey hey! I know it’s been a while since y’all have heard from me, but I’m BACK! As you may remember, I was on a social media break. The break definitely had its challenges as I noticed how much I missed Instagram, but it was relieving to live in the moment. I enjoyed life without constantly uploading a picture or story to social media. Yet, I’m glad that I am back so that I can mingle with y’all! My online friends, my faithful readers!

So, let’s dig into my gratitude list. Before I start, I want to share some pictures of the New England/Canada cruise that I went on in September. I know that I probably made this statement in the gratitude video, but if you have never gone on a cruise, I highly encourage you to do so. Cruise life is an imaginary world where folks constantly wait on you. 🙂 It’s a relaxing life, y’all!

Blessings,

Monica aka afrotasticlady

Nova Scotia

Halifax, Nova Scotia

New Brunswick

Saint John, New Brunswick

 

Advertisements

August 2017’s 6 Grateful Things List

August 2017's 6 Grateful Things List

Hey, y’all! August was filled with many splendid moments such a receiving my MSW degree in the mail. If you have been following the blog a bit, you know that completing my degree was a complex journey! But the degree is  here! #Yass! And I can do my happy dance now.

But I’d like to know about y’all too. How has August been for y’all? Have you experienced happy dance moments, hardships or both? Please chat in the comment section below!

By the way, I will be on a social media vacay until Sept. 24th so life will be silent on the blog! Yet, I can’t wait to chat with y’all when vacay is  over.

Lastly, check out this delicious piece of cheesecake that I gush about in the vlog! You know you want a piece. 😀

20170827_163517

Vanilla bean cheesecake!

Blessings,

Monica aka afrotasticlady

Women, Let’s Be Kingdom Builders

Women, Let's Be Kingdom Builders!

(Hey, friends! In June, the church that I was born and raised in, had a Women’s Day service. Annually they have this service, and there is always a specific theme. This year’s theme was “Determined Women: For Such a Time As This,” and the accompanying scripture was Esther 4:14-16. One of the women elders asked me if I could write a piece for the service. I have always appreciated the sweet remarks that folks in this church have given me regarding my writing. They see my writing as a gift, and they always encourage me to keep writing. Thus, I was honored when she asked me to share a piece. I would like to share what I read with y’all! I pray that my women readers are encouraged by my words, and that it leads to introspection. Blessings!)

When I was 18 years old, my dad and I packed up his small car with my belongings and left Worcester for Amherst, Massachusetts. I’d decided to attend Umass Amherst so I could live far from my parents’ supervision and still come home on the weekends. As someone who had been born and raised in church, I desired to escape God and all His rules. At Umass, I could study and party. I could dance with strangers at parties and get drunk. I could truly “live.”

Yet, living without God is not living. It’s surviving; it’s hustling. It’s seeing what you can achieve and where you can go on your own.

In October 2004, my second month at Umass, I went to a Gospel concert on campus. One of my friends was in the Umass Gospel Choir, so I had to support her through my attendance. During the concert, I sensed that God was speaking to me. I was being encouraged to choose Him. After the concert, I returned to my dorm room and called my parents. I told them that I wanted to be saved and they prayed with me. Through God, I changed my lifestyle. I allowed the Bible and worship music to consume me. Despite the challenges that I have encountered in my life, I have remained committed to God.

Women, I share my testimony because I would like you to think about the moment you gave your heart to Christ. Close your eyes if you need to, but please recall your surroundings. Were you at home or church when you became saved? How old were you? Were you the only person in your immediate family that became saved or were you surrounded by God-fearing family members? Were you crying and rocking back and forth? Or were you still when you gave Him your heart?

Women, it’s integral that we remember the moment that we were saved so that we can encourage ourselves. We need to remember the circumstances that God delivered us from. We must understand that God doesn’t save us solely for our own benefit. Indeed, salvation leads us to eternal life with our Lord and Savior. We are also saved to be influencers and advocates of Jesus Christ. We are saved so that other individuals in our environments can receive the gift of salvation.

Our theme scripture for this Women’s Day service states:

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘Go gather together all the Jews who are in Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:14-16

Esther, a young Jewish woman, was appointed Queen for a purpose. King Xerxes was unaware of her Jewish identity. Mordecai, her relative, refused to bow to Haman, a royal official. Upon Mordecai’s actions, Haman was enraged and plotted to destroy the Jews. Mordecai sent word to Esther of this plot and persuaded her to think about her position in the palace. He said, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther’s God-given purpose was to rescue her people from destruction despite the consequences. She could risk her own life by approaching the king without an invitation to his court or she could remain idle in God’s purpose for her. Esther chose to advocate for the lives of her people. Through her faithfulness, her people were saved.

Women, which people around you need to be saved? Who needs an intercessor? And what will you sacrifice so those people can receive eternal life?

Perhaps, you will not be risking your life as Esther did. You may be risking popularity, time, or money. Younger women, you may be risking the attention of that cute guy who isn’t even a Christian. You may have to stand alone.

Women, no matter your age, your godly riskiness will yield a grand outcome. Your obedience to God will be honored by Him. And your obedience can cause others to reflect on their need for Jesus. By praying with someone or sharing your testimony, you are spreading God’s light.

Matthew 5:14-16 states:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”

Women, you were placed in that school, job or apartment building to fulfill God’s purpose! You were created for this time so that the people surrounding you could rise from their depression, their anxiety, and their chaos.

One of the songs that I have been singing during my prayer time is “Withholding Nothing” by William McDowell. I am struck by the simple yet powerful lyrics:

“I surrender all to You

Everything I give to You

Withholding nothing

Withholding nothing”

Women, I encourage you to examine your lives and what you are holding onto. If you are holding onto fame or other lusts of the flesh, I encourage you to surrender those things to God. I assure you that those things are worthless and that the lives of people around you possess more meaning. I pray that you follow Esther’s example and proclaim “If I perish, I perish.” If you lose your social status, please note that you are losing it for the causes of the Kingdom.

 

 

31st Birthday Life Lessons

31st Bday Life Lessons

Hey, hey friends! I realize that it’s been very quiet on my blog, and I am glad that I have been able to communicate with everyone through my monthly gratitude vlogs. Even though I love doing the vlogs, I missed writing posts. Hence, it is time to give y’all some writing! #Yass

Some of you may know that June is my birthday month! I turned 31 years old on June 7th. It was a busy yet fun day filled with family and friends time. Of course, I ate out twice as I love to eat. I also went to the movie theater and Starbucks with a friend.

In this post, I want to share what I have learned over the last 31 years. God willing, I still have many more years to live and more lessons to learn. For now, I will share five important lessons that I have acquired. Here goes:

  1. Love God: Growing up in church, I heard about God all the time. I went to church with my family. I listened to Kirk Franklin and Mary Mary in my living room. When I finally accepted God into my life at 18 years old, I discovered a full, heavenly love. God loves me and us without restrictions. We can act prideful and feel dirty, but He still loves us. His love is a gift, and I must choose to receive it. I must also choose to love Him with every part of me. In loving Him, I need to surrender my plans and heed His instructions. Is this always easy? Nope!! But I believe that it is a worth following His path of love and peace.
  2. Love others: It can be challenging to love others, especially when it feels like they are trying to annihilate you. Yet, I know that God’s Word commands me to love others. Mark 12:29-31 states:

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

God would not command us to love Him and others if we could not do it. In order for us to fulfill His commandments, we need to rely on His strength! We must keep our ears open when the Holy Spirit convicts us.

Regarding these commandments, I am NOT perfect. I am still striving to love others as God wants me to love them. Besides being a Christian, I know that there many folks out there who need to be loved. As an individual who has worked in the human services field for numerous years, I have heard traumatic stories from clients. I have also heard how various systems mistreated them. But love promotes healing and restoration. And when my clients and folks who are deemed “unloveable” experience authentic love, they begin to grasp onto hope. They are already strong people, but their strength increases when they see that someone loves them despite their inner turmoil.

  1. Embrace community: I’m learning that God ordains relationships. I’m not really talking about romantic relationships. Although, I believe that He does ordain those relationships too. God ordains friendships. In my life, I have met women that I know that God meant for me to meet. These women have witnessed hardships and joys during my journey. And I have been able to witness the same events in their lives too. These women have provided me with a safe and loving community. Without community, life can be lonely and miserable. God’s Word states the following about friendship:

“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” Proverbs 27:9

  1. Embrace myself: As I have grown older, I have greatly appreciated this lesson. God distinctly created me so when I criticize myself, I am criticizing God’s craftsmanship. As with any human being, I have strengths as well as weaknesses. When I overly focus on my weaknesses, I become dejected. I must remind myself of who I am to prevent those moments of dejection. I have learned that I am a quirky, introspective, creative Black woman. I am a child of God, and my identity rests in Him.
  2. Go on adventures: I love the lyrics of the Rend Collective song, “Free as a Bird.” They sing:

“Let our praises run wild and free

Your lion heart is alive in me

Let our freedom and joy begin

With You, we’re dancing upon our chains

With You, we’re soaring on eagles’ wings”

I should not allow fear to stop me from going on adventures. As the lyrics display, living with God gives me abundant joy and freedom. But the enemy uses fear to doubt myself and my capabilities. While the fear is creeping into pockets of my life, God is urging me to take steps towards that new job or friendship. He is urging me to move higher in my relationship with Him. I must be open to going on an adventure. I have to trust that God has bigger dreams for me than I have for myself. He is the fulfiller of those dreams.

Also, when I think about adventures, I am reminded of physical ones. I think about going to concerts with friends, trying new foods and hobbies, and exploring the world. I have always loved going to concerts and eating, but I haven’t explored the world as much I would like to do so. This world is huge, and I want to learn about different cultures. I want to go to England, West Africa, Australia, Israel, and other regions. God willing, I will go to these places.

As a child of God, I am meant to go on spiritual and physical adventures!

Friends, I have only listed a few life lessons, but I could keep writing! 😊 I am grateful for the life lessons as they help me to grow spiritually as well as mentally. I am curious and looking forward to learning more lessons as the years progress.

Friends, what life lessons have you learned so far? Do any of my life lessons apply to you?

Blessings,

Monica aka afrotasticlady