Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Stop it!

Ladies, please don't overdo it with the cheap perfumes and body sprays from Bath & Body Works/Victoria's Secret/Walgreens/etc. I know we can't all afford to get the real stuff, but why you'd want to make yourself and your surroundings smell like old candy and Kool-Aid is beyond me. I can't breathe.

Finals Week Faith (Day 2)

Today was my Japanese final exam and it went superbly well! One down, two to go! The theme of light has been sticking with me, so I think I'll talk about that again today.

Psalm 34:5 and "More"

They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed (KJV)/
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame (NIV)

"I see something in you."
"There's something about you, I just can't put my finger on it..."

You've had people say this to you before, right? I know it's a bad habit, but I tend to dismiss compliments, especially those. Pssshh. Last time I checked, you couldn't see the future, nor do you have x-ray vision. I look at myself everyday, and I have yet to see whatever it is you think you see in me. But these days I'm realizing that there really could be something there. People of God, who keep their hopes in Him and look to Him in times of trouble, have something in them. Light, love, anointing, whatever you want to call it... it's something. And that something radiates outward, so that people can't help but see it and be drawn to you. That is so awesome, isn't it? God is the continual source of this radiance, so remember to keep your head up and look to him.

However, sometimes we stifle this radiance even though we don't mean to. "More" by Lawrence Flowers & Intercession is a reminder of this.This song always helps me focus. Near the end of last semester I was spending 6-12 hours a week in the library, I had that much to do. While I worked I just played this song over and over, and it would put me at such great ease. Oh the worshipper in me wants to break free from the intellectual mentality. That line gets me every time.

Now, I know it's ironic that the idea of breaking free from intellectuality encourages me to do well on final exams and projects. The only way I can explain it is that it reminds me that there is so much more to life than exams. Furthermore there's so much more to me than my ability to pass an exam, so there is no need to stress over it. Instead, I should channel that energy into figuring what I can do more for God. This song's message is that there is so much inside of us that wants to be released, if only we could be free of all the many "things" that are distracting us. That message makes this my favorite study song.

Now that I think about it the songs and verses would probably have matched better if I'd switched the songs, doing "More" yesterday and "Shine" today. But this is the order in which they came to me, so here you have it.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Finals Week Faith (Day 1)

Today is the first day of finals week, and I am so excited! Why? Because the daily tedium of going to class has ended, and I'm this close to breaking free of this place and going home!

However, finals week is still finals week. I have a couple measly tests in my way that need to be taken before I can leave. This means that I have to get my mind right! So from today until Thursday I thought I'd share a gospel song that helps get me prepared for upcoming challenges. I'll just keep it to the 4  that have been in my head and speaking to my spirit lately. Though I read the Bible everyday, I don't make daily Bible posts. But this week I'll make an exception and share a verse from my daily reading as well. What a coincidence that I'm reading through the book of Psalms right now!

First up: Psalm 33:3 and "Shine"

Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise (KJV) /
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully and shout for joy (NIV)

God has given you a new day, so you need to give him a new song. Whatever you have to say about God and your life today should be more than what you were saying yesterday. Whatever you do to praise him and show his glory today must go further than what you were doing yesterday. It is not possible to run out of reasons to praise him, so be mindful and strive to continuously enhancing your praise.

Another way you can enhance your praise is by showing the world who you are just as He made you to be, also known as letting your light shine. This brings me to today's song, which is"Shine" by Sheri Jones-Moffett. This song is just so empowering. It's a rendition of "This Little Light of Mine", but it speaks more to the daily struggle. It's easy to be fazed by circumstances or the way people treat you. It's easy to feel like you have nothing to offer. It's easy to feel like you must  hide what makes you special in order to fit in or not draw attention to yourself. But don't do that! My favorite line in this song is, What you have inside of you is already great. It's true! So go ahead and do what God has called you to do, using the gift He's already given you to do it.

I actually didn't have any exams today, my first one is tomorrow. But I already know that that exam will be no match for me. I'm going to praise Him in advance for success and keep it moving!

This is all more for my sake than yours, but I hope that you will be blessed through this series as well.

A self pep talk after seeing a full body picture of myself today

It may not look like it, but...

You are losing weight. You are making process. Most likely, you will feel better than you look (or how you think you look) during the majority of this process. So focus on how you feel. Because fixating on how you look is exactly what discouraged you and got you back to square one for the zillionth time.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thoughts that Came to Me this Morning

It's okay to recognize that someone isn't on your level.
It doesn't mean that you are better than that person or have the right to look down on her. But if:

1) That person has habits, goals, or ways of thinking that aren't in line with the direction you're trying to go in
2) That person doesn't challenge you (in a good way) or help you to become a better person yourself
3) You genuinely don't enjoy that person's company anyway

Then there's really no need to keep them around.

You have absolutely no reason, nor obligation, to feel bad about severing all connections with unnecessary people.
Precisely because they are unnecessary.

It's okay to change your mind.
I tried, but it still didn't work. I still don't have nearly as much ill will for you as I did in the beginning. But I'm going back to my original intentions and I will erase you from my life. I was right the first time. You are dead weight. And as I said the first time...

...after this is over I hope I never see your face again. God bless.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

On Repeat: Jackie Hill

I found this by way of Willie Moore Jr., a gospel radio DJ/rapper/singer who also makes funny yet inspiring YouTube videos. Jackie Hill is a spoken word poet who uses her gift to minister the Word to people. She's based in Chicago, but is originally from St. Louis. Other than that I don't know much about her yet, but I can tell you already that she is phenomenal!

This particular poem of hers "Dangerously in Love" is especially for the ladies. Why be so desperate for a man's love and relationship? Please, don't get caught up! In the words of Jackie Hill, don't be drunk on denial. And don't let your impatience with being alone make you sacrifice your reverence for God.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's all God.

God did it again! Sometimes blessings really do find you.

Thank you Jesus! Another blessing just busted me in the back of my head, y'all. :) I'm receiving a fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education that I did not directly apply for and didn't even know existed, and now I'm basically going to Japan for free! This is so amazing and crazy that I still can't really believe it. I wasn't going to say anything about all of this, but I felt that I needed to let y'all know that sometimes you don't even have to search things out. When you keep your head up and keep believing, sometimes opportunities will literally fall into your lap. So please, stay strong. Exceedingly and abundantly above all that you can ask, that's how the verse goes, right? Well there you have it. To God be the glory! :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Don't hit that Lady!"

It's Saturday. I'm waiting in line at Meijer to pay for some oranges. A man somewhere down the line behind me is warning his little grandson, whom he let handle the cart:

Man: "Don't hit that lady! You can't hit her, don't hit that lady!"

Me (thinking): Aww, that's cute. I wonder who he's talking about.

I turn around, and realize that the man and his grandson are actually right behind me. Which means the lady he is referring to is... me. Me? ME?? I'm "that lady"? WHAT?!

I felt so old at that moment. :(

As I enter my 20s, I've been thinking more about what it means to grow older. (The way I see it, when you are 20, you are just "20". When you turn 21,  then you are "in your 20s".) I've been thinking about what that moment is like when you realize you are no longer "young." That moment when you understand that while you're not old enough to be considered "old",  the years of endless opportunity  and energy and potential, the so-called "best years of your life", have passed you by and aren't coming back.

That moment when "the current generation" becomes "the previous generation". That moment when people who were young and thought they'd live forever are now just newly-inducted members into the "grown ups" club, whose members are no longer the center of attention. Society has given up its expectations and scrutiny of them because their time to shine has come and gone. That moment when you, as a member of that used-to-be-current generation, realize that your peak has passed and your sun is setting.

I am only 20 years old and I still live with my mom. I don't live independently, I've never had a job, and I haven't accomplished much in life yet. I am still too young for That Moment.  I don't even fully think of myself as an adult yet, which is why that exchange at Meijer was both hilariously absurd and slightly disconcerting for me. I am neither distinguished (yet!) nor elderly. I am not yet a real adult. I AM STILL YOUNG! So while they are polite, at this point in time I'd rather not hear titles such as "lady"  or "ma'am". Those don't apply to me yet. Thanks but no thanks, man.

Friday, April 12, 2013

"I see a window over your head, and it's pouring out blessings"

Hello, everyone! I just wanted to take a minute to let y'all know that GOD IS GOOD! I was just notified that I'm receiving $1,500 from the Honors College  of my school to fund my study abroad in Japan. With that in addition to the other funds I've been able to receive, I'm basically paying under $5,000 for EVERYTHING. I say all this not to brag, but just to let y'all know that God always finds a way of surprising you and lifting you up when you're at your lowest (and this has been a pretty low week for me up 'til now). As Canton Jones would say, a blessing just busted me in the back of my head, and I'm grateful for it! Please remember to be grateful for God's blessings and surprises! Have a great weekend, everybody. :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

God Speaks through Friends.

At different times this week, I heard the same message from two completely different and unconnected friends of mine. One is my best friend since 2nd grade, the other my former supervisor and current yoga instructor whom I first met this past September. I'm definitely not looking for anyone now. But I am becoming more and more aware that my "self-love" is highly conditional. Even though I try to think of myself differently, I still don't completely believe that anyone else will be able to love me either. So though unexpected, these were things that I realized I really needed to hear, understand, and remember:

Don't find the right person. Be the right person. Find Be someone who makes you happy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Things People Give Me #5

Even though I don't know y'all from any of the other white girls on this floor. Even though this bag was only out for a couple of days. And even though y'all were probably just trying to get rid of snacks that were old or that you didn't want anymore. I appreciate y'all doing this. It's been a bad week month, and I was glad to be able to take a quick break from the madness, walk a few steps away from my room, and grab a snack for free. Thanks, Amanda and Ashley!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I Bleed Red and Black! My Hometown Won! #L1C4

Yes!!! 2013 NCAA Champions in the house! They might never be able to pronounce our name right, but they WILL know who we are. Louisville Cardinals for the win!!! :)


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

On Repeat: "Steady"

I haven't been able to watch BET's Sunday Best in a long while and I'm not yet intrigued enough to look into this artist or the rest of her work, but I'm starting to really like this song. "Steady" is a newish single from Alexis Spight, the runner-up of the most recent season of Sunday Best. The song is based on Psalms 1:3, which speaks about people who delight in God's word instead of submitting to toxic and ungodly influences:

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (Psalms 1:3)

The chorus of "Steady" references this verse:

Like a tree, planted by the rivers of water / Lord keep me steady / Keep me steady 

Essentially, this song is about calling on God to keep you focused and on the right track. Fighting to keep your head above water in life and also to abide by God's will, representing His glory... this is a fight that I think all Christians can relate to, especially us young'uns. Again, I'm not really interested in Alexis Spight as an artist (yet!). But this song of hers has spoken to my soul and helped me discover my new favorite Bible verse!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Movies Last Week

I know, I know. I usually don't go to the movies because I always end up not being satisfied. But both of the times I went last week I was with Ma, and going to the movies used to be our "thing" before I became so critical. And I'd figured, Why not? I have nothing else to do. So I went. Here goes.

Seen Sunday March 24: The Call

A 911 operator (Halle Berry) fails to save a girl who ends up being abducted from her home and killed. Turns out the guy who did it was in love with his beautiful blonde older sister, who died of cancer when he was still a boy. So he goes around looking for blonde-haired, blue-eyed girls who resemble her  so that he can scalp them in his underground lair, save their hair/scalps in wig form, and always feel like his sister is with him. He strikes again 6 months later (kidnapping Abigail Breslin), but Berry's character takes this call personally and fights to the end to save her. "There are 188 million 911 calls a year. This one made it personal."


What I really like about this movie: Finally, a Halle Berry movie that doesn't suck! I haven't been willing to see a movie of hers since Catwoman. Berry's a great actress, but she's had a string of duds over the years and that catastrophe (no pun intended) is one of them. The Call is certainly not a masterpiece, but it didn't bore me to tears and that is a welcome change. If you'd like something to watch on a lazy day that'll entertain you and get your adrenaline pumping, this is it.

What I don't like about this movie: It was a lot more sick and twisted than I'd expected. I CANNOT take horror/thriller/suspense films in the least, so this was an unfortunate surprise for me. But then again, this surprise also made it fun to watch even if I had my eyes half-covered the whole time. This movie also had a rather abrupt ending, leaving me with many unanswered questions. Abrupt as it was though, it was vengeful. And revenge, so seldom gotten in real life, is somewhat satisfying to watch on screen.

Would I recommend it?: Sure.

Seen Friday March 29: Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor
A married aspiring marriage counselor from the rural South (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) has an unfulfilling job as a therapist at a millionaire matchmaking service in DC. She is dissatisfied with her life and her marriage, which has become dull. She starts cheating on her husband with a handsome, smart, rich, smooth-talking, hedonist client who turns out to be needy, manipulative, abusive, drug-addicted, and HIV-infected. She basically loses her mind and herself, and we see how far one can fall once they don't know their own worth and completely give themselves over to temptation. "Seduction is the devil's playground."

What I really like about this movie: Jurnee Smollett-Bell. I admire her as an actress, and she's the only reason I went to see this movie. She did not disappoint. The theme of change is prevalent in this film, and there are often scenes where her character stares at herself in the mirror after she's done or experienced something significant. Those moments, plus Bell's superb acting, helped me to really see and feel her character's descent into hell. I kid you not, at one point in the film she seemed like she'd been possessed by the devil. Absolutely captivating performance from her.

Also, this movie has a really sad ending. For once in a Tyler Perry film, everything doesn't end up alright in the end. The moral of this film is that the sanctity of marriage is not to be taken lightly; characters pay the consequences for their actions and no one walks away happy. Reconciled, getting by, no longer distraught, determined to keep moving forward, but not exactly "happy."

What I don't like about this movie: It's a Tyler Perry film. I swore off Tyler Perry productions (especially films) a long time ago. But I still watch, mostly because Ma has always been an avid fan of his, and movie-watching is always a better experience when you're with someone else. Plus, despite my issues with his work I still feel compelled in a way to support our people. It's the same kind of relationship that I have with BET, which I also swore off years ago.

Anyway, being a TP production, Temptation sticks to a familiar formula and the plot is incredibly predictable as usual. But as I mentioned above, he made some really smart decisions with casting and directing that actually made this film... watchable. Good even. Like For Colored Girls (which thankfully wasn't a real TP film), and The Family That Preys, Temptation is serious and gave me something new. I really appreciated that.

Would I recommend it?: Yeah, sure.