The Similarities of Sisters and Swine

pig_ringWhat does a nose ring-clad pig and a woman who uses poor judgment have in common? Well, let’s first explore the ridiculousness of swagged-out swine. No really. It’s ridiculous. And so is thinking that good looks and thickness in the hips and lips is what gives you value as a woman. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are (although being up in age and having this mindset does up the level of ridiculosity), you are not and should never be defined by your exterior, or your posterior for that matter. Use of discretion (making sound, godly decisions) coupled with beauty (inner is more important than outer) is what we should strive to develop and walk in as women of God.

King Solomon realized the value of discretion in a woman in Proverbs 11:22.

“Beauty in a woman without good judgment is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.” (GNT)

Besides being ridiculous, a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a major devaluing of what is made to have great value. The ring ends up wallowing in the same mud and slop as the pig it’s attached to, and in that state it isn’t fit to adorn anybody’s hand as it should. It would have to be removed from its previous environment, washed thoroughly clean, and placed in the possession of someone who would properly care for it before being able to shine and add that expected bling factor.

Well, my sister this describes the sanctification process for believers as well. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from unrighteousness, delivers us from the hands of satan and places us into the hands of our Heavenly Father, and we must remove ourselves from our former environment and ungodly influences in order to reflect God’s glory in the earth.

It is our job to allow a continual cleansing to occur in our lives by the Word of God. Returning to or staying in the same old environment with the same old friends, hanging out in the same old places, and doing the same old things is what keeps us in the same old defeated, misused, and abused state. It’s time for a real, lasting change, and that starts with a decision from you.

When I was about 18 years old I had a life changing come-to-Jesus moment. I had just graduated from high school and was a few weeks away from going off to basic training in the Army Reserves. Now having access to the local Army base, I decided to attend a concert with a friend of mine to hear one of my favorite male singing groups perform.

I wanted to look my best and a little sexy too, so I wore a slinky, form fitting dress with no support for the my girls (If you know what I mean). I was so sexy (and I guess groupy looking) that one of the members of the group invited me to his hotel room. In retrospect I realize that was a trap set by satan to get me in a compromising position literally, but in my eighteen year-old head I thought this was an awesome opportunity to hang out with a celebrity. How cool? Not cool at all because what I thought was an innocent and fun after party turned into  a proposition for sex. Thankfully, I declined the offer. Thankfully I made it out of there without something terrible happening to me. Nevertheless I was still devastated. I felt foolish because I misinterpreted his intentions. What about me said “I’m easy” to him? I wondered. I’m sure my outfit and the fact that I ended up following their limousine to the gas station had something to do with it. At that moment I decided that I didn’t ever want anybody ever again to draw that conclusion about me. When I got home I cleaned my closet of all suggestive clothing (including the dress I had on) and asked the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom and a conviction about my appearance to avoid sending the wrong messages to men.

Just in case you think you’re off the hook because you are already modest in your dress, good judgment also applies to non-clothing related things as well. It applies to any decision you make that either brings shame or glory to the God you serve. It applies to the things you say, the things you post, how you treat people, what you do when no one is looking, and how you respond in tough situations. Do your current actions honor God or do they offend Him? Do they make you a beacon of light or a promoter of darkness? Think about that the next time you pose for a picture or share intimate details of your life with others that really are none of their business anyway. Think about that when things or people make you angry or an opportunity to do something dishonest presents itself.

I want to strongly encourage you make a decision today to be the woman God has called to be and shun the woman the world is saying you should be. You are a precious jewel in the sight of your Father and have been snatched out of the pig’s snout (aka.the world) for His holy purposes. Think it, live it, and be proud of it!

For Those Who’ve Considered Publishing But Don’t Know Where to Start

Writing well is a learned skill and so is pubsharpen skillslishing well. Any one with a word processor and a high school diploma can write a book. And if one’s goal is merely to get a story down on paper or to simply say “I wrote a book” that’s fine. But if you really desire to make a mark in the writing and publishing industry one cannot stop there. Much more work needs to be involved.

Recently I was privileged to be a part of my county’s local author fair along with several other local authors. There were lots of people who came by to support the authors they knew personally or heard about, but there were also quite a few people there who came to pick our brains about our process in becoming authors, which is what any person seriously interested in writing and publishing should do. After having a few days to ponder and reflect on my experience in the years and months leading up to my official “coming out” as the author of an actual book, I’ve narrowed down my advice to four basic writing manners that matter. Enjoy and feel free to add more to the list.

1. Endeavor to perfect your craft. I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. My 4th grade teacher praised my writing abilities and told my mother to buy me a journal and encourage me to use it. I’ve also been a print journalist in the U.S. Army Reserves, writing articles about military life. I’ve worked as a middle school ELA teacher, modeling for students how to effectively express themselves through words. I’ve been a part of several writing workshops and have taken writing classes. I’ve written for my church newsletter. In 2011 I started an online blog at the suggestion of a friend. Needless to say, I’ve had numerous writing opportunities in my life, and they have all helped to make me a better writer. I truly believe that in order to become a better writer one must write, and write, and write some more. Writing practice helps you to refine and define your unique voice. So, take a writing class, start a blog, or buy a nice journal and write until you’ve got something worth sharing with the world.

2. Make the best presentation you possible can. We women and many men too will spend hundreds of dollars without even blinking an eye to make a good impression with their outer appearance. By the time we get our hair, nails, and makeup done and bought the perfect outfit and shoes, the bank is most likely broken. But if it is the right occasion, we don’t mind much. Well, publishing a book is a pretty special occasion. Actually, it’s an uber special occasion, and the time to go all out with to present your best product to the world. After all, your writing is a reflection of you, so don’t skimp on quality. Plus, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This can determine if anyone will want to read anything else you publish in the future. Here’s where I think the most time should be spent after the piece has been written: revision and editing by a professional. It can be a little intimidating to have someone take a fine toothed comb to your writing, but don’t be afraid of the feedback. I would rather have someone pinch my feelings a little before the book comes out than to be slapped in the face by a bad review post printing. It is so worth the time and the money to have this step completed.

3. For goodness sake, READ. Just as writing more helps to improve writing, reading more does wonders. Reading what other good writers have written gives us access to lovely language, wonderful word usage, fancy phrasing, extraOrdinary organization ideas, and stylistic sentence structure (you get my point.) This is habit that I admit I need to increase. Contrary to what some may believe, reading more is not a waste of time. It is an absolute necessity for continued growth as a writer. So find something that you are interested in reading and read. As you read, pay attention to more than just how the writing makes you feel. Notice how the writer is creating this affect. It may help to put yourself in the writer’s shoes to really think about what strategies he or she is using. This can be a very complex skill, so taking a class or two in in close reading can also be beneficial.

4. Look for writing ideas everywhere. Now that I’ve published my first book I want to keep my writing momentum going so I’ve been writing more often than before. It is easy to run out of good things to write about when you write so often, which is why it is important to keep your eyes open (and read). I actually have “find a new writing topic” in my brain whenever I do anything now. So that means I’m constantly writing in my head and when something clicks I grab my phone to add the idea to my notes before I forget it. I may not end up using all of it, but at least I develop a bank of topics to pull from in the future. Eventually all of those scattered ideas may develop into a connecting of the dots experience. Before you know it, you’ve got enough material for a book.

5. Invest in your success. As the saying goes, to make money you have to spend money. I’m not suggesting that anyone spend an insane amount of money on publishing a book, but I am saying that a serious writer should be willing to make an investment that would yield a quality product. When I say quality product I’m referring to the look and feel of your book–in other words the very first thing that people see–the cover. If your cover is boring no one other than your close family, friends, and people who know of you and think it’s kind of cool to know a real author will want to read it. It’s cover appeal. I am convinced that though there are those who have lots of valuable content inside the book, some won’t get to engage with or benefit from that content if they are turned off by the cover. I’m not expert, but my suggestion would be to add an experienced graphic designer to your team. You’d be surprised at the quality you can get for not much more money than you’d pay doing it on your own or with the neighbor down the street who owns a digital camera. It’s okay to go cheaper on supplementary materials like book marks and other what nots, but not on your main product. Again, you want to showcase the best presentation of yourself and your work. You’ve worked too long and hard not to.

 

Miracles, Book Signings, and Wonders

waitongod-8679 (1)It was the perfect night for a book launch party. Hours before, the sun decided to come out for a visit, warming us with his presence after days of hiding behind dark dismal clouds and cold winter winds. The moon had now taken his place for the evening and was keeping the temperature at a crisp but comfortable 50 degrees.

I could feel the tension rising in me. I had tons more to do, more details to tend to, but only a smidgen of time to get them done–0.25 hours to be exact. In fifteen minutes I would need to get home from the beauty salon, take a shower, get dressed, beat my face, and drop off the decorations at the venue for the decorating crew to get everything ready for the crowd. It wasn’t going to happen. Then the phone rang.

waitongod-8626 (1)Tina, a close friend of mine had seen my text warning everyone that I would be late and saw my car at the beauty salon on her way to help decorate.

“I’m going to have to drop these things off and then go back home to get ready,” I said exasperated.

“I can take the decorations with me so you can go on home and get dressed,” Tina offered.

“I have a lot of stuff in my car, Tina. It’s going to take a while to unload and reload all of it.”

“We can just switch cars,” she offered.

She was such a life saver. I had already had a million things on my mind like what if more people showed up than I was expecting? What if I couldn’t feed or seat them all? All of these worries stemmed from the fact that I over invited. Three hundred plus invites sent on Facebook and an ad in the newspaper to notify all of Sumter County for a building that only held 108. What was I thinking? Well at least getting the decorations there on time was one thing could be crossed off my list of what ifs. Next I had to go home and try to make sure I didn’t get my freshly done curls wet in the shower. That would be a challenge.

After some time I did mwaitongod-8741anage to keep my hair dry, beat my face, and jump into the slinky, plum-colored dress I had finally chosen as my coming out look. I was finally ready but still in a panic. I felt like it was my wedding day all over again. People would be waiting for me, the author of the hour, to arrive. Everything needed to be perfect.

And it was in all the ways that really mattered. In my haste I forgot the power cord for my laptop, which I needed in order to play a slideshow I created especially for the event. It had a picture of my grandma on it that I wanted to show in memory of her, but I still got a chance to talk about her in my acknowledgements. I wanted to have certain moments during the event videotaped with my handheld video recorder, but I forgot the batteries. Then low and behold I noticed one of my covenant partners who happens to be a professional videographer, pointing a video camera at me. He was shooting video of the entire party, and I didn’t even ask him to do it.

waitongod-8827Needless to say all was well. I should have known it would be. I had prayed about it, my Pastor had told me not to worry, and in times past God had worked things out in my favor before. This night was no different. God worked a miracle and turned all my worries into wonders. The crowd–perfect; the food–perfect; the venue–perfect; the outfit–perfect; the book dedication ceremony–perfect; the book sales–perfect. My husband’s introduction of me even though I forgot to bring his glasses so he could read the very small printout of my bio–perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing about any of it. Now on to more books, more signings, and more wonders!

***The “Wait on God” book signing and launch party was a huge success thanks to my Enon covenant partners, family members and friends both new and old. You all helped to make it great, and I love you for it. Be blessed with God’s best.

If you would like a copy of “Wait on God” visit http://www.BrianaGWhitaker.com.

3 Reasons Women Like to Be in Control

I like to be in conwoman-in-controltrol just as much as the next woman. Blame it on my upbringing. I grew up an only child and always liked having my way. Or blame it on the fact that I married in my 30’s after doing things my way for so long. Blame it on my unregenerated flesh that fights every day to have its way. No matter what is to blame though, I have to admit that trying to be in control in my relationship has put me in uncomfortable positions a few times because well, that’s not my position according to God’s plan for marriage.

I know, I know. Not everyone agrees that a woman should submit to her husband. Besides, we have the ability and intelligence to make our own decisions. But I have to qualify any further comments by saying that the guidelines by which I order my life (the Word of God) say otherwise.

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Ephesians. 5:22

In my almost four year marriage I’ve learned that the need for control is counterproductive to my relationship. I don’t know about you, but I need my marriage to be productive in every way, which is why I’m willing to work on me and allow the Holy Spirit to do His thing in my life. Here are the reasons I think women (myself included) like to be in control and why we should let that attitude go in our marriages.

1. We believe that if we want something done right we’ve got to do it ourselves. Sometimes women lack confidence in others, especially when their track record has proven to be sub-par. I’ve seen many powerful and influential women who instead of delegating responsibility to others in a task, will take on all of the responsibility themselves or micromanage the entire process to ensure that it’s done the right way–or their way. I’m guilty of this too. In my ten years of being in a leadership position in my church I’ve discovered the error of my ways. Hoarding all the responsibility is a sign of distrust. We are saying, although unintentionally, that “I don’t trust that you will get the job done correctly, so I will do it instead.” Well, my sister, in a relationship, that can communicate a message that you may not want to communicate:  “I don’t need you.” A man needs to feel needed or he will search for a place where he is needed and valued. I ask you, if you never give your man an opportunity to rise to the occasion and be the leader he has been called to be in your home, how can you not expect him to fall into mediocrity? If you do his job because you think he is doing it incorrectly, what is he supposed to do? My guess is that the both of you will begin to resent the other. To combat this we need to raise our expectations.

This makes me think about the teaching profession. According to educational theory, a teacher’s high expectations for students increases achievement. On the other hand a teacher’s low expectations decreases achievement. I believe the same is true with men. If you raise your expectations for your husband to be the leader of your family, he will work hard to fill that role. However, if you have low expectations and always do everything for him or tell him what to think and what to do all the time, he will never take the initiative to think or act for himself. What’s the point, if you always shut him down? Will he do everything perfectly? No. But neither do you. Allow him to lead and even make mistakes in the process. He will learn what to do differently the next time. I am not saying that we as wives don’t have a voice in our marriage because we most certainly do. But again, there is a right and a wrong way to handle these situations. Here’s what Candace Cameron Bure has to say about the issue.

“My husband is not a dictator. We work together but I don’t want to dig my heels in and I have no aspirations to be the ruler of my family. We are two equal people but I love my husband and I want him to lead. With big picture issues such as where we live or what schools the kids attend, if he feels strongly about something and I think our family would benefit from it, I am going to share my thoughts. But ultimately, I trust that my husband has our family’s best interests at heart, so I wouldn’t fight him on that. And when I feel strongly about something, he agrees with me. It goes both ways.”

2. We are convinced that we are right and our ideas are the best. It is true that men and women think differently, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. So what if he drives a mile further than you would have if you were driving? The important thing is arriving at your destination, right? Don’t get me wrong sometimes our ideas really are good ideas, but that doesn’t mean that your ideas are the only ideas or your way is the only way. And get this, your right way may be the wrong thing to do at that particular time. Sometimes we just have to bite our tongues and wait it out for a more appropriate time to express our grand ideas and opinions. But I find that to be true in situations outside the home too. You wouldn’t challenge your boss about a new initiative as he or she is presenting it to the company, would you? Depending on the type of boss you have, he or she may not take too kindly to insubordination. Your boss might appreciate you giving your helpful feedback in a less challenging way, like in private and given as a suggestion not a mandate. Even if your boss chooses not to accept your ideas at this time, they have been heard. And as the leader he or she knows in which direction the company should go. Should the bosses ideas turn out to be a wash, you don’t have to worry because you are not the one being held accountable for the success or failure of the project. It takes a load of pressure off of me to know that as the wife, God is not holding me accountable to lead my family. That responsibility belongs to my husband. What He is holding me accountable for is to help my family get where we need to go under my husband’s leadership.

3. We are used to being independent and in control. That I.N.D.E.P.E.N.D.E.N.T spirit has run rampant among the female population. At 25 years of age I bought my first house. I owned my own car, and I had job to support myself financially. I didn’t need a man to do those things for me. But that was then and this is now, and nobody forced me down that aisle. I went willingly. So now that I am married I do need and depend on my husband because we are ONE! That is God’s design for marriage. Two people coming together as one. How can we be one if we are divided against each other? If we can’t let down our guards and be vulnerable with our own husbands who can we be vulnerable with? An inability or unwillingness to be vulnerable with your spouse may be a symptom of a deeper issue. But I digress. Independence has no place in a marriage relationship. If it’s independence you want, then stay single. When you are married, your life is not your own anymore. It is shared with another, and every decision you make affects the entire family. If you think about it, when you are saved, your life is not your own anymore. You then belong to God, and every decision you make should be made with His approval first and affects others. As I state in my book “Wait on God” …marriage is just an extension of our relationship with Him.

4. We can be too daggum bossy. I really meant to stop at three reasons, but I just had to throw this one in. Assertiveness in a woman can be a good quality. It can also be a really destructive quality, especially when it means pushing an issue too far with your husband in an effort to be in control and prove how right you think you are. That is a recipe for disaster, disfunction, dis-ease, and displeasure. As children of God, we are called to be preservers of peace and not confusion.

“Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” Psalms 34:14

“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18

Instead of pursuing to be in control in your home, pursue to live in peace with your man. If you insist on standing your ground in your home this may happen. To the outside world you look like a woman in control–getting attention for your clever arguments and ideas, putting everybody in their place with lots of don’t-mess-with-me attitude–but inside you are an emotional wreck. And giving out orders to be in control is not worth falling out with your husband or worst, ending up divorced. Life may not be perfect, but your peace through Christ can be.

I want to challenge you to join me in learning to relinquish control and think about these things the next time you are faced with the decision to follow your husband’s lead or your own.

 

 

 

 

Members of Christ’s Nation

Christ jerseyMy husband is a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan. He is so enthused about this team that anytime he sees someone else, stranger included, wearing Cowboys apparel he has to have a conversation with them about the team’s status. Actually, to my husband there is no such thing as a stranger in the Cowboy “nation”. And in the body of Christ or Christ’s “nation” there should be no such thing as a stranger either.

Ephesians 2:11-13 says this…

11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

It is always a blessing to me when I find someone outside of my normal circle of family and friends who loves God and is not ashamed to talk about Him. I found one such person on my job a few weeks ago. I was in my office one morning when this particular co-worker came by to clean my room. I knew that he was a Christian, but I didn’t know the magnitude of his relationship with Christ until he began to share his love for God’s Word and his desire to please God and be in His will. I too shared some things with him that I had recently studied in the Bible, and in this brief conversation I was encouraged. I was encouraged to know that there was another person in the building with a genuine connection to the Father that we both share. I was encouraged to know that if needed, I had a brother in Christ who could pray for me and give me an uplifting word.

And that’s how it should be. We should be willing to share the good things that Christ has done in our lives to continue building one another up. Far too many Christians tear their brothers and sisters down with lies, jealousy, backbiting, and other ungodly behaviors. Those things should not be named among us. Instead we should allow the peace, love, and joy of the Lord to radiate between us. Believe it or not, how we treat interact with one another, whether positively or negatively, says much about our condition as a family and can impact others’ decision to become a part of it. If we don’t encourage one another who will? If we don’t boast about the Good News of Christ, who will? If we don’t band together in favor of our Savior, who will? So let the members of Christ’s nation be the beacon of light that we are supposed to be so that we can compel those who remain strangers of the covenant of promise to join our team.

Wait on God is on Amazon

That feeling when you finally accomplish a goal.

Visit Amazon for a copy of my book Wait on God for only $4.99.

My friend Melissa holding my book.

My friend Melissa holding my book.

Your Destiny is Too Important

This song by Kevin Levar is so powerful! It encourages my soul every time I hear it. Prayerfully it will do the same for you. Remember, your destiny is too important to give up for anything or anyone. Be encouraged and blessed, saints of God!

This is not a time to get distracted
This is not a time to go off course
This is not a time to lose your focus
Got a work to do for the Lord, and you can’t afford to lose your way You’ve come too far from where you started
So please don’t let the time you’ve sown be wasted
On things that you’ll later regret
Wishing you never had
Once you realize it wasn’t worth it.
Your destiny
It’s too important to give up for anything
(Repeat)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Your destiny
Said it’s too important to give up for anything … anything ahh … anything Yeahhh
Said it ain’t worth that skirt,
Said it ain’t worth that tie … no it ain’t … no it
Said it ain’t worth that girl
And it ain’t worth that guy … naw
Your destiny, your destiny, your destiny is too important to give up
For anything, anything yeah … mmmmm
Waiting on the other side of temptation
Waiting on the other side of this test
Is everything you ever dreamed, everything you prayed for
Everything He promised you that you’d get
(Repeat)
So hold on, and don’t let go … Hold on, you’re just that close
Hold on and never give up, Hold on …
Hold on … Hold on … Yeah … Hold on … and don’t let go
Cause you just that close … Hold on, and never give up
Hold on, say Hold on … you say:
It’s only a matter of time
Cause I can see the finish line
My victory is days away
So imma get ready
It’s been a long time coming but I know it’s coming for sure
I got a promise from the Lord …
Waiting on the other side of temptation
Waiting on the other side of this test
Is everything you’ve ever dreamed of
Everything you prayed for
Everything HE promised you …

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