September 30, 2014

Must-Read Books: Fall 2014


By Tatianah Green






Hey everyone! As you know by now I love to read and I've been doing a lot of that this past summer, especially on my commute to and from work. Besides from the "Books of the Month" that I post on this website, I wanted to note the following books I've read this summer that I didn't get to share with you to check out this autumn. They are all available on Amazon or the author's sites for purchase (links in the book titles below). 
   
   There's something for everyone, so enjoy these reads as I have:

For the Ladies: "Dusty Crowns" by Heather Lindsey. This book is a great reminder for women both single and married to put God first and adjust their perspective in their personal relationship with Christ. It's a quick read, but an encouraging piece nonetheless. It's great for a weekend getaway or morning devotional time.

For the Singles: "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" by Joshua Harris. This book is a classic in the Christian relationships category. I read it all in a week and it definitely confirmed my thoughts and where God wants me to be in this season. Before you even consider talking to someone special, read the book and recommend it for them too!

For the Ambitious: "The Gatekeepers Are Gone" by Lamar Tyler. Lamar is like a mentor to me and his first book is like a well needed conversation on the changing times and technology have allowed us access to millions of people and potential consumers if we recognize our potential to grow our ideas. It's a must read for those who want to get started in blogging, media, music, film, etc. and want more information on how to get exposure without watering down your creativity. 

For the Single Ladies: "God Where is My Boaz?" By Stephan Labossiere. Stephan is a fellow writer for Black and Married with Kids and I had to check out his best seller. It's a great read for the ladies who are single and waiting for God to send their future husband. It's Christian-based and that's helpful inspiration and encouraging advice from a brother in Christ. 

For the Fiction Fan: "Tears of Kings" by Tanzy Alexis. This book is written by my sister in Christ and her first novel is a page turner. It's a fictional account of three men and their ups and downs in faith, life and love. This book is for men and women; it incorporates faith and fiction with no shortage of drama to keep you wanting more.


    Check out these books and if you've already done so, let me know what you thought of them! Be sure to get the book of the month for October: "The Love Lies..." by Debrena Jackson Gandy! Chicago, you  don't want to miss our book-signing event with Debrena Jackson-Gandy on October 25th. Get the details here or purchase tickets today!


September 25, 2014

Movie Review: No Good Deed


By Tatianah Green

Who are you letting through your door?

The film No Good Deed stars and is produced by actress Taraji P. Henson and actor Idris Elba. The thriller features a tale about a wife and mother whose evening gets rocked when she opens the door to a handsome stranger who was stranded by the road. The film was not too bad, and not to give away too much for those who haven’t seen it yet, I want to just focus on one major theme presented in the film.

Taraji’s character Terri is a devoted wife and hardworking mother of a toddler and newborn. Her husband has a lucrative career in law so she took on the responsibility to be a stay-at-home parent, sacrificing her career as a D.A. in the local justice system (Atlanta I believe). While the film may not make mothering to be a fulfilling job, it’s not hard to tell that she is tired and not as satisfied with her position in life at the moment. She mentions this a couple of times in the movie. As any new mother would, Terri feels a little vulnerable post-baby birth, stressed and in need of some T.L.C. Unfortunately, her husband is more preoccupied with a golf trip over the weekend with his father, leaving his wife and young children at home. 

Fast forward to when Idris’ character Colin comes to Terri's home on a dark and rainy evening in search of help for his car. Terri opens the door and in her continued state of nurturing, she offers him the house phone to call for help, and enchanted by his stature and features, eventually offers him to come into the home. This is the part when we all sit as the viewer and label her a fool for even allowing a stranger access to her home. As the movie title suggests, there are no good deeds in this dude’s mind. He’s sick in the head and he has an agenda to bring harm to anyone who comes in his way, and Terri eventually gets tangled in his deceptive web of charm. Her discernment is lower than it should be, and her “guest” overstays his welcome. Once she discovers the phone lines cut, she realizes that Colin is trying to cause her harm and tries to fight back all she can.

What I wanted to address in this film is how the home can be a metaphor for our bodies and spirit. We are to protect ourselves and guard our hearts from people and things that can bring it harm. But when your foundation is not as solid as it needs to be in God, you’re liable and vulnerable to disaster. We dismiss her character as foolish for opening the door for Colin to come through the door, but how many times have we done the same to randoms and no good deed-doing people into our lives, hearts and bodies? If we only knew who were really swine before we cast our pearls to them. I am not trying to single out women in this, men have been hurt by the wrong people too.

Like Colin, the wrong person can enter your life with their surface level of a need but act out a totally different agenda and intention. He terrorized Terri and her family for a evening that didn’t have to occur if she was strong enough in that moment to not open the door for him to enter. We all get vulnerable, weary and tired. We get to points in this walk when we are contemplating giving up or settling for less. That’s when the temptation creeps in with its temporal, limited charm to get you to do something you have no business doing. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life,” Proverbs 4:23.

In one scene she tries to reason with the madman regarding her safety and says “You don’t have to do this,” insinuating that he was going to assault her sexually. He looks at her and says something along the lines of “don’t flatter yourself.” Ouch. As sickening as that scenario is, a woman with an already fragile sense of self is not “good enough” to be raped? She was hurt and in her pride cussed at him. Now why would you want to provoke someone to attack you?

It reminds us of how far we can go into negativity when we’re hurt on the inside. I was reading a blog post about rejection and the author stated bluntly that a woman with low self esteem would sleep with a man who insulted her because she was adamant on proving him that she was better than what he just called her. Whoah. Maybe that example is not for everyone, but for the impressionable and young, it’s happening a lot.

For instance, someone you’re attracted to may challenge you by calling you out on something like not being experienced enough or “too innocent” and if you don’t believe in who you are, you will try to prove them wrong. That’s a reason why we have so many teens and young adults posting unnecessary and inappropriate photos of themselves over the Internet. It’s not just sexually explicit either. It’s anything that we want to showcase to the world about our “identity.” How fly we are, how saved we are, how sexy we are, how much money we have, how we are still desirable, even by criminals. This can’t be so. You gotta get back to the basics of who you are, what you’re passionate about and don’t lose hold of your identity. Terri lost her hold in the busyness and worry of being a wife and mother.

Not operating in your purpose and identity can strip you of the necessary tools to live and operate in the world around you. When you are actively in your purpose as a single, you don’t have time to worry about your future, you’re actually looking forward to it. You don’t easily entertain distractions, you evaluate them and seek the Lord on whether the person or thing is at your “door” to help or hinder you. We can’t give our identity away, we must stay rooted in our identity in Christ, for He will protect us.

I’m sure there would be more to uncover but those were the things that stood out to me in this film. I hope it helps you consider guarding your heart and how important it is to protect yourself because the enemy prowls looking to kill, steal and destroy what God created you to be.

Have you seen the film No Good Deed? What did you think about it?

September 23, 2014

Is anything sacred anymore? Leaked pics and lack of respect


By Tatianah Green


Source
This month just proved to us all once again that the things that we once regarded as sacred (connected to God, consecrated, holy) are just not regarded the same any more in this day and age. Another list of celebrity women have been hacked and their personal photos have been stolen and spread across the Internet. Of those celebrities, the Black public figures have included Jill Scott, Rihanna, Gabrielle Union, and Meagan Good. Jill is a mother and Gabrielle and Meagan are wives, yet their person nude photos were hacked and shared over and over again for the public to view. Reportedly, Union is looking to contact the FBI to look into this scandal. With the news breaking out about this, I felt some kind of way, and wanted to share my thoughts. Please feel free to share in the discussion because we need to address some thangs:

  • First, the incessant need to treat women as sexual objects to be commodified and ridiculed for their personal photos and bodies is undeserving. Women have been attacked in the media in one way or another for way too long and this unfortunate circumstance is another example. Let’s note that it’s not cool to share and save pics of any women that aren't your wife. If you don't have one, get your life and mind your business. They are mothers, women who are wives and newlyweds, or figures who didn’t want their image exposed in this way. What if that was your mother or better yet your wife or sister? We have to respect our sisters and cover them, to respect their bodies as we are to do so for our own (Romans 12:1). Actress Meagan Good was a trending topic on Twitter with multiple images of her breast exposed. She posted a note on her Instagram account shaming the original perpetrators of the hacking and those who have copied and shared these images.
  • I’d also need to highlight that this violates women in a disturbing way. It's not high school, it's the Internet, where thousands of eyes gaze upon these images that these women only wanted to share with a private audience. Gabrielle Union is a sexual assault survivor. To be attacked like that in her lifetime and then be violated by having her nude body shared multiple times over the Internet is simply violating her as a woman all over again. It's insensitive and disheartening. I’m sure she didn’t take those pics to have them hacked. No one wants to relive trauma and this hacking situation may trigger those memories for her or anyone else for that matter. We have to be more cognizant and respect people enough in these hard times.
  • If celebs aren’t safe, we aren’t either. It’s more than just nude or explicit photos, really. It’s more so our so called rights to privacy that come into question and under target in this day and age. There are groups and organizations that make it their business to hack into your accounts and get your money or personal information. It’s disturbing yet so real. We all need to use righteous discernment with how we use the Internet, social media tools, etc. and the risks we run when we use them. Privacy has been an issue for a long time now, but we are still not doing enough to protect ourselves. Be wise and don’t share anything you don’t want “exposed” online.
  • As a Christian can you send nude pics to your spouse? This is a debate that ignited particularly over Meagan Good’s photos. She is married to a preacher (not pastor), DeVon Franklin, and as Meagan shared on her IG post, these intimate photos were for her husband. There were several people who shunned her basically for being foolish for having those photos in the first place.
  • I am not married and I already made a post about nudes and sex tapes on this blog, but again I wonder: is it okay to sext your spouse? I’ll have to ask some godly married couples that  question without getting too invasive because for all intents and purposes, Good wanted this to be private between her and her husband. Should Christian couples sext or cyber sex? What if they are physically apart for a while? Is it a sin to God?

  • I remembered two scriptures that I think relate. There's much to be found in Proverbs 5. It warns men to not become adulterers, to “drink from your own cistern” (v.15). “Let them [springs] be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers” (v.17). The springs are a metaphor for the couple’s sexual intimacy and love for one another. “A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. Why be captivated by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife?” (v.19-20). Husbands are encouraged to enjoy their wives and their wives only. We the public are not Meagan or Gabrielle’s husbands. There is no reason we should be exposed to their private lives, bodies, etc., whether they should have kept it off their personal devices or not.

  • It may not be the seemingly "holiest way" of expressing your passionate love to your husband, but perhaps these women were away from their husbands and wanted to keep their men satisfied. It’s better ultimately than having your husband gaze upon images of other women or indulging in pornography. This causes lust in his eye for that other woman and it leads them down a spiral of sin. We can judge if we want, but you can’t put Christian sex lives in a religious box, especially if they are married. Actually, we shouldn’t be talking about them at all. What they do intimately is supposed to be between the two and God.

  • Why isn’t marriage sacred anymore? Why disrespect these wives, their husbands, and their marriages? This is an invasion of their intimacy and can bring unnecessary stress and drama into their lives. DeVon Franklin just preached a sermon last week and now he has to deal with this attack on his wife and marriage. Hebrews 13:4 (MSG) says “Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband.” This is instruction to married couples and to all. That includes those who have shared their images. We have to stand up and discourage our brothers and sisters for attacking marriages in this way. We have to do our part as singles to bind up the spirits that try to keep us from respecting God's institution of marriage.

  • The future of privacy is uncertain with all these random attacks that affect all of us. From national security to our most personal and private places, nothing is safe on the world wide web. Even those time will pass and this scandal will not be etched in our memory forever, it brings us to question what we will consider private and what will authorities consider private? How can we protect our children from seeing these images that are open for all to see? How can they protect themselves?
  • Again we all must use righteous judgment. God sees what we all do when the doors are locked, when we are alone, what we do our personal devices, upload to our clouds, and send to people. He knows. He is the only one who can really judge us all in these actions. Question your motives and be careful with your information. We should aim to please God in public and private in all seasons and areas of our lives.


What do you think about the leak controversy? 

September 17, 2014

Pep Post: Forgiving yourself


By Tatianah Green

Source
When it comes to dealing with your relationship past, you may have feelings of regret, remorse, resentment, embarrassment, and more. Our past relationships may not have brought out the best in us or the best in the person we were with. 

Perhaps you’ve compromised your standards or someone else’s. Perhaps you're a reformed player with a string of broken hearts in your past. Perhaps you did that person real wrong in one way or the other, and for some reason, years later, you are carrying on some of that guilt and condemnation from that past mistake.

My fellow BCS (beloved Christian singles), if you haven’t already, it’s time to let the past go and forgive yourself. This is specifically important because we too often carry hurts we put on others, almost as if we cursed ourselves for our past way of thinking and acting. You’re not the same person that you were back then. WE have ALL fallen short of the glory of God, and our sins at one point ruled us out of receiving God’s promise. Then Jesus came along and changed the course of human history with His obedience and acts of love and grace. He died for you and in turn Jesus took away the guilt, hurt and shame that He knew you would eventually feel in this life.

Unfortunately, we feel like it’s hard to shake and we have it on us like a stronghold. Maybe it’s due to emotional or soul ties. Maybe it’s because you don’t see yourself as worthy of forgiveness. Maybe it’s because you don’t know that you’ve been already forgiven and need to embrace that instead of what you’ve been holding on to for so long.

I held on to the guilt of hurting an ex for years. I thought it wasn’t there in my heart or spirit anymore because of time, but I realized that after journaling my past experiences with my exes, I needed to self-reflect and see that I was still carrying the burdens of their broken heart for them. It pains me to hurt other people, but when God calls you out of something, it’s for a reason and you must be obedient. I didn’t realize that I needed to forgive myself for how I went about doing things in my past. When I was in Bible study time on my own, it just hit me like an instant spark in my mind: I’m no long condemned. I don’t have to be guilty anymore for what I’ve done in my past.

The devil’s tactic to keep you from moving forward is by placing the weights of the past on you. It was a simple and clean moment in which I felt God’s assurance within me, that He’d reminded me of my own freedom. I’m FREE. I’m free from my guilt from the past. I may get a reminder but it won’t tear me down. It will be a part of my testimony of when I wasn’t where I wanted to be in the Lord and made a mess of things leaning to my own understanding and ignorance. The release of the guilt that weighs you down is refreshing. It feels beyond good to realize that it’s no longer your burden; it’s time to finally let it go into the hands of the Lord.

Maybe it’s your time to forgive yourself for your past. Things may not have gone the way you wanted them to go before, but you can’t change the past. God is giving you a chance to enter His grace on the daily, so trade that guilt for grace. Forgive yourself and be free. Be happy and happy for those who you’ve encountered in your life. Your future says that you will be spotless in God, your past doesn’t matter to Him, so why does it to you? Give it all to God today and embrace the grace of forgiveness.

For more on forgiving yourself, check out this post by All About God.


September 15, 2014

"Single, 4 Things That Will Help on Cold Lonely Nights"


From BMWK

Dear Autumn,

So here we are again. It’s been several months and I must say I’ve enjoyed the break away from early sunsets, grey skies, and chilled windowsills. I can admit though that I’ve missed the lattes spiced with cinnamon, pumpkin and peppermint. I can swallow my pride and say that the changing of the leaves are romantically beautiful. I can say that I’ve missed the close comfort of multiple layers, leather jackets, and a sharp hat that fit my personal style. There’s someone else however that I haven’t been looking forward to seeing besides the first frost of late season. I’m not looking forward to running into Cold Lonely Nights (CLN).

I remember in high school when we used to crack jokes on CLN, saying it’s “cuffing season” and everyone’s thirsty to have a boo to be up under all of the sudden once the temperatures dropped. The summer is over and so are the opportunities to meet more people in more places. Man, it’s too cold to go out sometimes, and as I get older, it feels colder and colder, Autumn.

I had it all planned out until CLN came along. I was going to have a relaxing night at home every Friday, catch a movie, my favorite show, or listen to some good music with a warm meal or snack and be happy to have made it through the week. But on that first cool Friday last week, CLN hit me out of nowhere. It started off with a few friends from out of state posting their plans for the evening—celebrating yet another birthday—and updating their Facebook with up-to-the-minute details. After I returned to my home page after work was done, I saw an unexpected message that brought a drop within me so heavy I felt like falling to the floor...

September 12, 2014

Event: Becoming a Better YOU Conference


I'm honored to announce that I'll be a part of a panel on love relationships alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ for this great two-day conference that's coming to the Chicago area on November 14-15, 2014. The Becoming a Better YOU Conference is hosted in part by Ericka Larrieu Davis, founder and President of Joyful About You Ministries. I interviewed my friend Ericka after the release of her first book, "Let's Break Religion." 

You don't want to miss this FREE event! See the details below and register today!



"Becoming A Better YOU Conference is geared to becoming and birthing all that God has called you to be and accomplish. Our prayers is that this would not just be another gathering but a life changing conference that will effect the rest of your life forever!"

"We have dynamic spirit filled, God led people that will be delivering the Word of God and countless opportunities to soak in the very presence of God. Our focus is to encourage and usher people into a place in Jesus that will help position them to have a successful and accomplished 2015. Don't wait to create new years resolutions a day before, begin now!" 

Bishop T.D Jakes quoted: 'It takes 21 days to form a habit!' Huffington Post Healthy Living also stated: "In Lally's study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit. In order to form a habit of getting closer to God, getting focus on what matters, fulfilling the call of God on your life, it will take time to get in the habit of doing so. This conference will give you that jump start to beginning strong for the incredible 2015. God has more in you and is calling you to be a better YOU!"

Details:
  • Relationship panel for singles and married couples. Hot topic: "What to look for in a mate?"
  • Location: Holiday Inn Chicago SW-Countryside Conference Center
                     6201 Joliet Rd, Countryside, IL 60525
  • Friday, November 14, 2014 at 12:00 PM -Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 10:30 PM 
  • Kids eat FREE at restaurant inside the hotel
  • Child care services upon request (30 dollars per day for all three services. Snacks included)
  • One-on-One prophetic counseling (Must sign up if interested. Free!)
  • Indoor pool and Jacuzzi
  • Located 20 minutes from Midway Airport
  • Free transportation from Midway Airport
  • 3 minutes away from Target, Movie Theatre, Nail Salon, Clothing Stores, Steak House, etc.
  • Discounted room rates
  • Early morning prayer and much more!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

September 10, 2014

My summer of single: 5 notes on life and love


By Tatianah Green

Labor Day has passed so that means that the summer if officially over for us Americans. The sun is setting sooner, the weather is starting to drop, and you notice fall holiday items on sale at the store (really, it’s too early for that). I can’t help but reflect on my summer as a single, non-dating woman and the things I’ve noticed about myself along the way. I encourage you to take some time this week or weekend to reflect on the things you’ve done and accomplished this past season and seek the Lord on the next season ahead. 

Smiling helps…a lot more

Smile!
 I’ve written about this before about smiling all day as an S.O.S.  challenge, but I want to let yall know that smiling helps both you and  the people you come across. I’ve received more compliments from  men for my smile than my clothes or other features. 

 While I’m not looking for approval from men, but it’s worth noting that  having a smile on your face expresses a lost joy in this world.  People are going about their day like robots with a lot on their minds.  If you smile or even acknowledge their existence with a simple hello  it can make a difference. A smile can motivate you to think positive  things about life, God, and more. Don’t get overwhelmed about your  day, get out there and simply smile more.





Men are bolder in their compliments and approach 

Umm what did you just say to me?
I’m sure most single women can testify to this that when you’re walking around a place or outside solo, men are bolder with their comments towards you. I’ve gotten several faux marriage proposals this summer, no lie! It’s slightly flattering with an ounce of creepy. 

We need for some mature men of God to teach the brothers young and old how to talk to women, either when on the street or on a train or event, because it’s bad out here. If I was with someone, more likely a man, I wouldn’t have been talked to the way that I was in those instances. 

One moment I remember was when I was on the bus going home from work. This older man asked if I had a man. I said yes so he could go away (typical canned response from an unbothered single woman), and he asked “Do you need an upgrade?” Ooop!! Wow, just…wow. Pray for these men, Jesus!

Finding contentment in attending events solo 

On the corner of Happy & Healthy
at the African Festival of the Arts
I realized that I went to a handful of events on my own this summer. I eventually got over the thought of going somewhere by myself. Some singles may feel out of place if they attend events alone, without a friend or a date. That was me, but I'm getting better!

Listen, sometimes the one you’ll date won’t be able to make it to the event you want to go to, or be interested in that activity! The single season is the best time to get out of your shell, learn new things, and do so without company. How will you know what you really like until you try it yourself? You don’t need someone to hold your hand to do it; go meet new people in the process. I’ve attended festivals, parties, events, rallies, the theater, and the airport on my own this summer, and you know what? It’s really not that bad.

If you’re having a hesitation about doing things solo, ask God to go with you. Yes, invite Jesus on the outing with you and watch Him show up. I was at an awards program in May and went to the dinner portion on my own. I had a small prayer in my heart about knowing anyone who was there and hopefully being able to sit with them. Not too long after I finished my prayer, I got a message on my phone from two sisters who saw me from across the room. I went to elementary school with them and they just happened to be there at the event! We ended up sitting together at dinner, caught up on life, and enjoyed the program afterwards (Shout out to Denise, Deidre, and their mama!).

More people mentioning marriage to me than ever 

My face when someone asks me where
my "husband" is
I promise yall I’m this close to getting a “marriage jar” for when any time a person says something to me along the lines of marriage, husband gonna find me, it’s coming, etc., I’m gonna ask for a dollar donation for the marriage jar. When I’ve reached a certain goal, I’m going to take a trip or treat myself, lol. If you sound sincere when you talk about your imaginary jar, people may stop bringing the topic up, lol. 

But really though, it’s been interesting hearing people question or talk to me about marriage or saying my blessing is on the way. I’m cool with all of that, really I am. Marriage is a great goal to have, but I’ve realized this summer more than any other time that it’s not the end-all-means-all in life. 

Your life goes on after the wedding. You may have a spouse but you also have responsibilities in life and your relationship with God. You have a purpose to live out and it doesn’t stop because you have a ring.

On the grand search for God and purpose 

I’ve learned to not make an idol of a man or marriage, and I’ve read a number of books this summer to gain insight and refocus on what’s important--developing a beautiful relationship with Jesus Christ. I want to be faithfully committed to Him before He introduces me to my future spouse. I want to be prepared and in position for God’s will to manifest in my life. 

Hidden Treasure
That basically means that we should want more than a spouse as believers; we should want God’s perfect, divine will for our lives, knowing Him and making Him known with the gifts and talents that He’s given us. While patiently living out and seeking God’s perfect will, He will detox and develop you. It may be uncomfortable but it will be worth it because if you want God’s best, there must be a sacrifice of your timeline, your comfort zone, your way of doing things.

I’ve had several memorable moments in which caused me to grow up some and show me He’s more important than anything I’ve tried to force to go my way. He caused closed chapters, transparent conversations, and “a-ha” moments that weighed on my heart and spirit this season. 

Trust me, if you’re sincere about God developing you into the person He wants you to be, or even prepare you for your one day spouse, expect to see Him working on that for you. He loves us all and wants us to come to repentance of our old ways and trust Him with His ways.

As I look back, this has been an eventful summer of growth for me personally. I can only imagine what the rest of 2014 is going to look like. My advice to you: get knowledge and don’t limit yourself or your God.