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Guest Blogger: Michelle Stimpson | Fear of What's Next

Well, hello!

It is guest blogger time here at Going Beyond and today we have a great post by Michelle Stimpson.  That name may ring a bell for many of you because Michelle was one of our guest bloggers during the month of April! (If you've missed her post, Shredding the Past, or it's just been a while, definitely check it out.)  We've brought her back and this one is just. as. good! If you've ever dealt with fear, or know someone who has, this post will really feed your soul.

Enjoy, sisters, and have a wonderful, wonderful Friday!

Michelle Stimpson

When I had babies, I feared they would contract a disease that would be misdiagnosed and mistreated until it was too late. When they were toddlers, I feared I’d lose them in the mall and they’d get kidnapped. When they entered school, I feared they would be bullied because they were so much taller than all the other kids. Every year, I breathed a little easier because the other kids were catching up.

Are you seeing a pattern here? Wait. There’s more…

In middle school, I feared they would start hanging with the wrong crowd. And when they started driving in high school…let’s just say it’s a good thing I can only get nitrous oxide at the dentist’s office. I looked forward to the day they left my house because THEN I wouldn’t be so fearful anymore.

When our oldest, a son, finally prepared to leave the nest, the old fears sprouted up again cleverly disguised as new fears. What if he gets sick away from home? What if he gets kidnapped and I don’t realize it for days (this kid never called home unless he wanted money)? What if someone mistook him for a thug or overreacted to a silly prank?

Suddenly, it hit me: People have lied to me. There’s no feeling of “Whew! I’m done with that!” when your kids turn 18 or leave the house. I’m sure this sounds very unmotherly-like, but I’m telling you, I really thought I’d be home free when my kids finished school.

This same 18-year-old boy (6’2”, 140 lbs.—think J.J. from Good Times) decided to take the night shift at a county jail filled with hardened criminals. I knew my mind had to be renewed by something or I would have no peace.

That something was Psalm 91. The Lord led me to study it, stand on it, pray it over my son, and share this word with him, too. The truth of the matter is: There is no real protection outside of Him. Whatever He allows has purpose. Whatever He doesn’t allow flat ain’t gonna happen.

Psalm 91

Furthermore, the only real, true, everlasting disaster that could ever occur is for someone to die outside of Christ. All other so-called disasters (even death) end with the deceased person closing their eyes to this world and waking up in the presence of Jesus. That’s not a disaster—that’s what we hope for!

As it turns out, the jail job was preparation for the next step in my son’s life, the next level of faith as his mother. He’s leaving for the Army next week. I’m not sure exactly what his assignment entails, but when he rattles off his job-code-number-thingy, other military people are like, “Dude, that’s pretty intense.”

And I take a deep breath.

God is the same God in kindergarten, in junior high, in a jail, and in the military. Moms, dads, grandparents and even adventurous children can rest in His shadow.

Michelle

A Prayer for Today

Hey there!

I won’t be long today at all. Promise. I just wanted to share a quick prayer with you that I recently read while going through one of Priscilla’s Bible studies. If you’ve done the Discerning the Voice of God Bible study, you’ll be nodding your head in a minute. I’ve recently posted it on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, too, so many of you will recognize it!

Lord, heighten my spiritual senses

to see that which is not visible,

hear that which is not audible,

sense that which is not tangible,

believe that which is unbelievable.

Teach me to sort through

the noises of this world,

to hear and discern Your powerful,

wonderful, pure, precious voice.

Oh man, I love that. "...Your powerful, wonderful, pure, precious voice."

Powerful Voice

That has been my prayer these past few days. I break my own heart just thinking that I have gone through many, many days unaware of God’s handy-work (the fine details, pristine craftsmanship) or that I can become so busy that I unintentionally block out His voice as He pursues me daily.

Before you go about your busy day today, whisper this prayer a few times. If I’ve caught you in the middle of your day, give yourself permission to stop what you’re doing and pray this prayer out loud. Close your eyes and just take it all in for a minute before you continue with your day.

He hears you and will answer you. He will speak to you. If you’ve already seen Him at work, if He’s answered your prayer, if your spiritual senses have been heightened, will you share it with us?  Your words will definitely encourage another!

Hey, see? I told you I wasn’t going to be long. :)

Many blessings,

Nicole

Guest Blogger: Mary Hunt | God Doesn’t Want Me to Be Rich - Part 2

So glad you are here!

Today we have a continuation from last Friday's post by our guest blogger, Mary Hunt. We are excited to share Part 2 of her story with you.  If you haven't had a chance to read the first half, no worries! You may view it right here.  Go ahead and read Part 1 if you haven't, then come right on back to read the rest of her story!

Take it all in...and enjoy!

...But that was a problem. It was still all about me. And can we talk about pressure? Sure, I’m entrepreneurial and all, but it’s not easy to keep that income stream flowing.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but it has been a humbling experience to come to terms with this matter of money.

Whose money is it, anyway?

“The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. (Psalm 24: 1)

“The silver is mine and the gold is mine,” declares the LORD Almighty.” (Haggai 2: 8)

“Remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” (Deut. 8: 18)

“You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” (1 Cor. 6:19– 20)

God is teaching me a lot these days. And I am certain of one thing: God owns everything. I am his money manager.

I have come to the point of unbelievable peace rest now that I know for certain that God owns everything. He even owns me. Should he find me trustworthy, I am his money manager. I am his steward, not for just 10 percent, but for everything. He’s training me to see the needs, to get excited about spreading his wealth to the needy. A steward manages assets for the owner’s benefit. He trusts me to make distribution decisions. As his money manager, God even trusts me to set my own salary. I draw needed funds from his wealth to pay our living expenses.

I don’t believe God wants me to live opulently in a mega-mansion. I don’t believe God wants me driving a flashy car or living with some kind of a superior attitude of wealth. But I’m a child of the king so living as a pauper doesn’t seem right either.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19)

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

Wow. What a difference this has made. The pressure is off. It’s not up to me. Whether God asks me to manage hundreds or millions, that’s up to him. It’s not my money. I’m a worker bee for Kingdom. I long to be found trustworthy, reliable and available. I desire good judgment, wisdom and an excellent relationship with my “employer.”

I want to be like him, to understand his criteria so that I can distribute his riches as he desires. The more I know of Christ, the more of a giver I be-come. And the more I distribute, the more I become like Christ.

Since I was 11-years old, I’ve longed for riches so I could be completely free--free from parental control, free from longing, free from fear and worry. In all of my striving and conniving that kind of freedom eluded me. My efforts landed me in bondage.

Discovering my role as God’s money manager has changed everything. I don’t long for riches, I no longer want a million dollars. And for the first time in my life, I’m experiencing peace, joy and freedom like I could have never imagined.

God does not want me to be rich. I am certain of that. He wants me to distribute his riches as his faithful and trustworthy steward.

Mary

There is Freedom

Hi there, friends! It’s hump day and I pray you’re having a great week thus far!

Hey, have you ever had a song that you just can’t get out of your head? You know, the one that’s playing in your head when you wake up, when you turn on the radio and there it is, or when you walk by someone in the grocery store and they are humming its melody. Or how about a verse or a word that has been following you everywhere you go? I mean everywhere. You’re driving along minding your own and there it is on a highway billboard. It happens to me often and I can’t help but smile from ear to ear because you know there’s something more to it than a song or a sign that just won’t go away. We need to lean in and listen.

There’s this song that has been following me around for a few weeks called “Freedom Reigns” by Jesus Culture. Everytime I hear that song, whether on Pandora, during a worship service, or while driving in a friend’s car, I can’t help but think it’s because the Lord is trying to get my attention.

I wanted to share some of the lyrics with you…

Where the spirit of the Lord is

THERE IS FREEDOM

If you’re tired and thirsty | if your burden’s heavy | if you’re hurt and broken  

THERE IS FREEDOM

Freedom reigns in this place | showers of mercy and grace | falling on every face 

THERE IS FREEDOM

I’ve chopped it up a bit, but do you see where this is going? Freedom is ours!

2 Corinthians 3:17 says, Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

And take a listen to Galatians 5:1 which says, Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

Freedom

If He said it, we can sit easy knowing that it is true. All of it. There's no “what if” or “maybe” or “perhaps” or “I’m having a good day so it must be” type of truth. Read the scriptures, dissect each word and breathe it in so that it may live in you.

We don’t have to live with anxiety; we don’t have to fear the unknown; we don't have to feel small or doubt our worth; there is no reason for us to be jealous of what others have; and there’s no reason for us to feel inadequate or ill-equipped.

Our redeemer has broken the chains and has set us free. Shake them off and step right out of them. Pry them off if you have to. We are free from the things that have held us and tied us and left us bound and paralyzed.

Chains

If the enemy can stop you from walking out your front door, have you cower in fear or make you step back from an opportunity because you feel ill-equipped, he slows you down (or completely stops you) from doing the things the Lord has set out for you to do.

He’s fighting hard because he knows your worth. But...(and there's a big 'but' there)...he will not win!! Look him square in the eye and let him know he is not going to win this one. Or that one. 

I want to leave you with this scripture today. This one is going to get written up on a note card and placed on my office computer as a daily reminder.

Philippians 4:6-8

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Let’s live free, my friend.

Until we meet again,

Nicole :)

Guest Blogger: Mary Hunt | God Doesn’t Want Me to Be Rich

I met Mary Hunt when I was single and in my early 20s. I was attracted to her wit, kindness and her straight-forward way. I sat quietly on the front row while she taught thousands of women in church after church how to be wise financial stewards. She was always good. Too good. You would leave her session holding onto your wallet with a staunch determination to spend less and save more.

Many of her lessons shaped my young, financial life.

Mary is an award winning author, syndicated columnist and motivational speaker. She's the founder of Debt-Proof Living, which is an organization that has been providing hope, help and solutions for over 20 years to individuals who are committed to debt-free living. She's shared her knowledge on Dr. Phil, Good Morning America, Dateline, The Oprah Winfrey Show. . .

. . .and now with us.

Today, enjoy Part 1 of her guest blog post. . .and then come on back next Friday for the rest!

Bless you today,

Priscilla

Mary Hunt

I was 11 years old the day I made myself a solemn promise. It wasn’t a passing fancy or silly notion. I recall everything about that day—from where I was right down to what I was wearing when I wrote my promise in my secret journal. My plan was to re-read it and re-promise it every day for the rest of my life so I wouldn’t forget.

“When I grow up, I am going to be rich.”

That was it. No logic, definition, timeframe or strategic plan. Just a nine-word promise that would go on to shape, drive and nearly ruin my life.

I survived adolescence by dreaming about how happy my life would be when I was rich. I hung onto the promise for dear life. I didn’t rebel; I didn’t run away from home or take up shoplifting. I waited patiently, until one fine day I did grow up and left home for college.

I didn’t find a pile of money waiting for me in my dorm room. But I wasn’t bummed out. Sure, I knew I was now fully “grown up.” But it would take a little more time to become fully rich.

In the interim I discovered that if I could spend money it felt as though I had money. I could do it because I had a checkbook. It worked reasonably well for a while and for the time until I find a rich husband.

I married a banker. There. That should do it, I thought to myself. And when it didn’t, I kept my husband but headed down a more reliable financial path. I began collecting credit cards. How carnal, you must be thinking. What kind of ignorance would it take for a person such as myself to add up all of the credit limits and think of that as additional income? What kind of person would trust consumer credit more than her husband? More than God?

It’s not that I wasn’t well immersed in spiritual things. I was a preacher’s kid. I knew tons of Scripture. I’d listened to so many sermons that I could rattle off all kinds of platitudes on matters of theology and stewardship. All of that paled by comparison to my desire for riches.

Bills

I got into a lot of trouble waiting for God to grant my wish to be rich. Yes, I said wish. I prayed as if to a fairy godmother. “Oh, puleeeese, pretty please! Make me rich. I waaaaaaant to be rich!”

Let me cut to the chase here and let you know this did not turn out well. While waiting for God to show up (oh, how I’ve come to loathe that cliché, suggesting that in some way He gets lost, or forgets to keep an eye on the clock, but now and then happens to “show up”), I did what I had to do. And in the fall of 1982 my world came crashing down. I fell on my face before God. I asked for forgiveness, which of course he always grants because he is a forgiving God and he knows our weakness.

That was a life changing, major turning point in my life. As God provided the opportunities, my husband and I began to come back from the pit of financial despair. Without filing for bankruptcy, slowly we began to repay a 6-figure pile of unsecured, credit-card debt. We started to give and to save, even though deeply in debt. It wasn’t easy but it became joyful. It took 13 years to repay the debt completely, but we did. Our marriage survived. And I still wanted to be rich.

My new determined path to riches was that I would make a deal with God. I would for sure, cross my heart, you can count on me--always give the Lord 10 percent. Always. I liked that formula. He gives me 100%, I give back 10%. And the more I do it, the better my chances that my 90% will grow. Bingo! That’s it! I knew the Christian-speak, too: You can’t out give God! You’ll do better on 90% than you could on 100% without God’s blessing you for tithing.

I had my eyes on a million bucks. Heck, yeah! Why not? That would be a hundred grand for him, nine-hundred grand for me. The more I gave back, the more I’d get. Not a problem.

But that was a problem.  It was still all about me. . .


We will end right here for now but be sure to join us next Friday for the conclusion of Mary Hunt's blog post!

Discontentment

1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19

Upon graduating from college, I learned a new word to put in the place of my discontentment. The word was "comfort". Isn't this what we all have the tendency to do - call our sins something else to justify them? For example, I've often said, "I don’t have to be rich I just want to be comfortable." But, I'm learning that it's in our most uncomfortable seasons that we truly see our Father's face.

If this world is not my home, why would I seek ultimate comfort HERE? It’s because so often I forget that simple fact I'm not home. It’s like a solider going to Iraq and deciding to purchase property and build a dream home. Ludacris. His goal for being overseas is not supposed to be comfort, it's combat.

We are never meant to be “comfortable” here. Sure, God graciously grants it to us as we go about life but it cannot be our ultimate goal. Every part of our existence finds its origination in Christ so it is not until we are actually home in heaven that our spirits will be at complete rest.

If I'm honest, often times I think that the Lord is here for my comfort, too. Like He's supposed to be at my beck and call like a cosmic bellboy. But the heart of the matter is that I am here for His glory alone. And because He loves me so relentlessly, He throws in blessings here and there. I'm grateful but I have to remember that, that is never supposed to be what life is about. We are here to make MUCH of his name, and because we are his, He will take care of us.

So, yes sometimes God give us things we don’t want or that He knows won't be the most comfortable because ultimately He knows it’s best for us. But sometimes, like a sick child refusing medicine that the parent forces on them, our tendency is to fight against His good gifts that don't come in the packaging we prefer.

But, our Heavenly Father knows the truth - if life were always simple and easy and emotions were always peachy, we would never seek him. But it is on our knees that we WALK in faith.

On Our Knees

The word "discontentment" strikes a cord with me because since college it has literally been a plague. Usually I write blog posts in 3rd person but not today. Not when talking about this topic. Discontentment is my issue. It has been the killer of all joy and the robber of all peace. It has, on occasion, snuck in and infested my entire being. But God has a way of revealing it. Each and every time I am struggling with anxiety, He shows me that discontentment is at the root. But the moment I remind myself that His plans are perfect and that His glory is in ultimate authority, peace comes and rests and surpasses my understanding.

If you are struggling with discontentment today, don't ignore it or re-label it. Face it head on in the power of God's Spirit by disciplining yourself to seek Him and by deliberately reminding yourself of your primary purpose - to live for Him.

Michone'

Guest Blogger: Annie Downs | I Believe

I've only been in the presence of Annie Downs once. And that was all it took.

Spending just a few minutes with her is all you need to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are in the presence of a woman who embodies grace and Godliness. Annie is resolved. She's firm on her values, her purpose and her passionate faith. When she opens her mouth to speak, the overflow of her relationship with Jesus and heart for others is readily apparent.

And she's smart. Just downright wise.

She's an author, blogger and speaker who devotes most of her ministry to young women and college students. Her three books - Perfectly Unique, Speak Love and latest, Let's All Be Brave - need to be on your bookshelf!

Like, for real.

So glad she is with us today! You'll be blessed by her post!

Priscilla

Annie Downs

The United States Men’s National Soccer team has this chant that has really caught on in stadiums and on social media. It gives me goosebumps every time I hear it (which has been a lot recently, since this is the summer of the 2014 World Cup).

It starts with one fan yelling “I!” and the crowd echoes, “I!” Then the lead fan says, “I BELIEVE!” and the crowd echoes. “I BELIEVE THAT!” The crowd yells “I BELIEVE THAT!” The chant continues, as words are added, until drums are beating and the crowd is screaming “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” over and over and over again. (Watch it here when you have a chance - it’s amazing.)

Tim Howard, the US goalie and United States Men’s Soccer Team hero of this World Cup, tweeted the chant before each game.

Tim Howard Screen Capture

I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN.

There’s just something about that, isn’t there? This whole crowd yelling together “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” I’m a sports-loving girl, so this is bound to move my guts, but even if you aren’t into soccer, it still does something in you, doesn’t it? When a crowd gets going like that, you can’t help but go, “you know what… I believe that WE WILL WIN!” and suddenly you’re screaming like America’s biggest soccer fan and actually believing that they will win.

And can you imagine how that feels for the players? Down there on the pitch (that’s what a soccer field is called, next time you want to impress a soccer fan), they are surrounded by the chanting of those who believe in them. Really believe that they can win.

That must make them feel brave - like taking that next shot, running a little faster, and giving just a little more to see and grab that victory that’s at hand.

Can you imagine if an entire wedding party began to chant “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” as the bride and groom recessed down the aisle?

Can you imagine if a family stood on the front porch as the college student drove away and “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” followed him down the driveway?

Can you imagine a young woman being prayed for at the altar and the entire congregation shouting “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” as the pastors intercede on her behalf?

We all want to be brave, but we can’t do it alone. I need you cheering for me as I attempt to live my life for Christ with courage. And I want to cheer for you. We should stand up for each other, stand beside each other, and believe in each other- that what God has started, He will finish. And that we were made on purpose and made to be brave.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Let us always remember that we are surrounded - by that great cloud, yes. But also by the ones still here, standing beside you, ready to cheer for you as you choose to war against fear and fight for freedom.

In the battle to be brave, I believe that we will win.

Annie

Annie's latest book Let's All Be Brave releases Tuesday, July 15. But click here to check out all these prizes you can get if you pre-order by Monday the 14th!

I'm Just Fine, Thank You

I’m fine.

Sometimes that is the easiest response to give. And the majority of the time, that response is hiding an ocean of hurt. Neglect. Abandonment. Guilt. Shame. Fear. Confusion. You name it.

Let's be honest. We’ve become good at hiding behind a smile, playing the martyr role and keeping it all together. We say everything is okay but what we are really saying is:

I'm Fine

When I saw that picture I felt a bit convicted.  I sometimes hide and carry my burden alone with an "I'm fine". You wonder that if people even knew what you were really struggling with or how you were really feeling, they would run for the hills. But the truth is, there are alot of us hurting in some way, shape, or form, carrying a burden too heavy for our frame. We have band-aid covered wounds tucked away in areas of our lives that, if mentioned, would bring up a world of hurt and endless tears.

So, “I’m fine” is how we respond simply because it's easier to deal with.

Well, you know that burden you’re carrying around right now?

The one that is the first thing on your mind when you wake up and the one responsible for your restless nights.

You know, the one that keeps you on the brink of tears and feels like a weight sitting so heavy on your chest that it's impossible to breath.

That one. Actually, the several that you may have gathered and are lugging around. . . All of those. 

You don’t have to carry them alone.

Let's read that again. You don't have to carry them alone. You don’t have to simply because our Father says so. 

Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV) to, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."  

Did you hear that?  He knows that we cannot carry the burdens of life on our own! He wants to come to our rescue, walk alongside us, relieve the load that is on our back, and carry us through to a victorious ending. If we run to Him with arms extended, take His yoke and learn from His ways, He promises there will be rest for our soul.  That means peace; that means freedom; that means endurance; and that also means. . .sleep! It's a deal too good to be true but He considers it a more than fair exchange! 

Now, once you’ve made that trade and you are covered in His peace, fight the temptation to take back that burden to carry alone. I’m the first to admit that I sometimes leave one hand (and a foot) on the problem. . .just in case the Lord needs me to 'take it from here'. That's right, me. But who am I really kidding? I've given my problem to the God of the universe.  The universe! Do I really think that the God of the universe. . .the God with a capital G. . .the one who breathes and galaxies appear. . .can’t handle the problems I'm facing?

Today, let's make a commitment together to take God at His word.  Let's take Matthew 11:28-30, engrave it on our hearts, and put it into practice this very moment.  Let's live with certainty knowing that God is in control of all things.  Even our big (small) things.

Let us rest in Him.

Until we meet again,

Nicole 

Food, Fireworks, and the 4th of July!

Today is a holiday here in the U.S.!  One of the things that come to mind when a holiday is upon us is gatherings with family and friends around food...and lots of it. And for this particular holiday - the 4th of July - we also have fireworks!  But let's not forget the food.  I don't want to veer too far from where my heart is right now. :)

If you're in need of a dish to whip up to bring to a gathering today, I have one for you!  It's called a "Flag Cake" or "Red, White, and Blue Cake". It's fairly simple to make and it's been my 'go-to' dish for this particular holiday.  It's festive, it's colorful, and it's yummy!  It's also my favorite because of the ingredients.  I love food (and cake is no exception) but I've been making a conscious effort to make better food choices and this cake has a little healthy twist to it.  There's fruit involved!

Flag Cake

Here's what you'll need:

1 package of chocolate, yellow or white boxed cake mix

1 container of cool whip* (defrosted)

I container of strawberries all sliced in half*

1 container of blueberries

*I buy two containers of each to avoid running out. You may end up with a few leftovers to snack on later.

What to do:

Bake the cake in a 9x13 pan according to the directions on the box.  Spread the cool whip (like it's icing) on to the cake once the cake has completely cooled. Once you've spread the cool whip on to the cake, line strawberries and blueberries to form a flag. 

And wa-la!  You've just created a very festive and Instagram worthy cake! 

What are some of your favorite recipes for this holiday?  Share them in the comments below.  I'm always looking for new recipes to try.

Have a wonderful Friday!

Nicole :)

Curly-Headed Girl

Hey there friend!

Hope you are having an amazing day!

I'm turning forty in 6 months. . .and I'm itching for a change. So, I've decided to do something different to my hair. Although I haven't decided exactly what I'm going to do, I've been searching the Internet for photos and ideas to give me inspiration. Along the way, I remembered this old post and thought that it'd be fun to re-post it for all of you who may have missed it the first go around.

Enjoy!

Priscilla

 

 

Banner

 

BE FOREWARNED! If you came to our blog today looking for something spiritually edifying or theologically profound please RUN FOR YOUR LIFE. Today, I'm just having some fun. . .and hope you will too!

I’m a curly-headed girl.

It’s a fact. Leave it be – straight after a wash in the shower – and it’ll puff into a life-size afro reminiscent of Fat Albert’s.

Funny how my hair has become one of my most distinguishing and recognizable characteristics. Sometimes people write or email our ministry – not to ask some deeply theologically probing question – but to dig into the annals of my mind. . .about hair.

Yup. You heard me right.

H. A. I. R.

Makes me question my effectiveness in ministry. I mean, how would you feel if you’d spent weeks prayerfully planning a message that you hope will bring healing and encouragement to the hearts and minds of your audience only to have a teary-eyed woman walk up to you at the end, dramatically dab her cheeks with tissue and say: I’m so moved. . .by your hair. How’d you make it do that anyhow?

(For all of you that have ever written or talked to me personally about hair, relax. I’m joking. I don’t mind at all. I like conversation – any kind will do.)

And honestly, it’s understandable that women would want to talk hair – even after I’ve spilled my guts teaching God’s word. Sometimes for us women, concentrating on how to bring our thoughts into captivity to Christ, walk in spiritual victory, hear the voice of God or prepare for spiritual warfare is so much more difficult when our hair doesn’t look right – or at least fairly decent. (Cause let’s be honest; God may look at the heart but other women are looking at our hair.) Having a “good hair day” makes us feel strangely. . .better. Our day can be going terribly wrong but if we happen to flip down our car visors and catch sight of a head full of glossy, perfectly coiled curls that all decided to cooperate and go in the right direction, it makes us smile - even though we lost our dog, just got fired from our job and got stood up on a blind date. Good hair is analogous to being happy, clearheaded and able to get on with the rest of our lives.

(I’m exaggerating. . .but only a little.)

I digress. . .

So, I’ve been a curly headed girl for as long as I can remember. Even after I put a permanent straightener in it at age thirteen, childhood photos still gave away my roots (pun intended). I was one of those little black girls whose mother put my hair into two, sometimes four, sometimes eight or sixteen plaits (can’t believe she did that to me) all over my head fastened by colorful little thinga -ma-jigs that had hard plastic knobs that looked like gumballs attached to the ends. (Those things should come with a warning sticker: Will smack young children in their eyes if they turn their head too quickly – especially if they have sixteen plaits. I’m just sayin.) Those braids were not only my trademark but the consistent feature you’d find on the head of most every girl where I grew up.

       

We had tightly, curled hair that would break a comb that didn’t have enough girth to it in one second flat. And this – this - is what you did with it: put it in plaits sorted by perfectly angled parts that looked like a road-map to Mars.

We hated it.

I think I can speak in sweeping generalizations when I use the word “we” (my slight and hesitant apologies to anyone who actually enjoyed this atrocity). By in large, we wanted our hair to be set free from captivity – like a Siberian Tiger who broke out of his cage at the San Francisco zoo several years back and scared the dickens out of the whole city. Yup, we wanted our hair to be that kind of loose – which might have been just as scary as the tiger except that we had visions of it cascading down our backs and being. . .straight. So, we straightened it. . .permanently. . .the very second we got old enough and our mothers said we could.

(Although I saw a girl not much older than three in a salon chair recently who, under the watchful eye of her mother, was getting her very first permanent straightener. THREE. I know, right?)

I stress permanently purposefully because we had temporary straightening options that we indulged in as often as we could. And we have the scars to prove it. Those hot combs smoked up our kitchens and sometimes seared the tip of our ears when the smoke got too close to actual skin. But it was worth it. . .cause our hair was straight!

. . .until it rained.

. . .or it was humid.

. . .or we sweated.

. . .or we swam.

. . .or we took a shower without our extra-large shower cap securely in place (Darn those few strands that always escaped out the back.)

So, when our mommas pressed our hair. . .we checked the weather report, refused to sweat, wouldn’t dare swim (even with a swim cap cause they weren’t ever cute enough) and we took a shower with extra care, making sure that the humidity had completely cleared out of the bathroom before we dared remove the plastic from our heads – which never seemed to happen soon enough. So, we’d start sweating because we were too hot from the plastic caps.

Temporary straightening was SOOO high maintenance. Geesh. But we did it. . for a while. Then, we were too tired – and too broke - to keep it up during college so we walked down the aisle and made a covenant with a creamy, white solution that made all our dreams come true.

At least during the honeymoon phase.

Then some of us found out we’d been hoodwinked, bamboozled, conned, misled, deceived (and any other synonyms you can think of right now. I’ve run out). We woke up one morning, looked in the mirror at our beloved and realized it’d fooled us. Our curls had been tamed yes, but, in some cases, it took our hair out– and I don’t mean “out on a date”. I mean it literally took whole globs of hair straight out of our scalps by the root. Damaged it beyond recognition.

Which is why after more than a decade of permanently straightened hair, I let it grow back to its naturally curly beginnings. I had qualms about it. Visions and nightmares of those bubble-gum, plastic barette thingies hitting me in the face again. But I did it anyway in search of my hair’s original health.

I assumed that I’d hate the texture as much as I did when I was a little girl. But as my hair grew I was so surprised to find that now, as an adult, I enjoyed and loved every single curl. They became my own. It’s been 12 years of heavenly matrimony between me and my natural hair and our relationship is working out nicely.

Every now and then, just for fun, I straighten it – temporarily – with a flat-iron or pressing comb (and I’ve learned how to hold the tips of my ears down to avoid any first-degree burns. It’s much nicer that way). Don’t do it often but it’s fun to shake things up a bit.

Had it done this week in fact. And I’ve enjoyed it.

   

But. . .Wait For It. . .I miss my curls.

Can you believe it? I can’t. Never thought I’d say that. . .but it’s so true. I will enjoy some time wearing my straight new-do but I’m already excited about going back to my huge, curly afro that my friend Shawna says makes me look like a lion about to attack.

(She normally sits a few rows behind me at church and sometimes texts me messages DURING THE SERMON like: I wish I could see the pastor but I can’t because you’re hair is in the way. ROAR!)

(I’d be offended. . .if it weren’t so stinkin’ funny – especially with the pastor preaching and all. So, I laugh in a nice “don’t-disturb-your-neighbor-cause-we’re-in-church kind of way and then I don’t text her back. . .because good Christians don’t text in church.)

(But sometimes I do tweet in church, or instagram. . .or. . .well, never mind.)

Looking forward to having my curls back in a few days because. . they are mine. I’m sure the first good rain is going to take care of that. Or I’ll just stand in the bathroom while one of my sons is taking their shower. (They’ll just love that.)

So glad that God has made me ok. . .with me. . .just the way I am. Head full of curls and all.

Have a good day my friend!

Priscilla

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