October 21, 2014

Exposing the Love Lies: Interview with Relationships Mentor Debrena Jackson Gandy

By Tatianah Green

A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to connect with Debrena Jackson Gandy, a national best-selling author and love relationships mentor. Upon reading her book, The Love Lies, I was excited all over again to be hosting her in Chicago on October 25th. 

One of my favorite aspects of the book is that it allows the reader to do some self reflection and evaluation. With Gandy's personal testimony and experiences, she breaks down the love lies that women all over have believed over the years such as my favorite chapter "Having expectations gets me what I want from a man." She presents the love lie, dispels the lie with truth, and then offers exercises for self-work. This book is not just for single women, but for married women as well. We all have learning, relearning, detoxing and letting go to do. After finishing Gandy's book, I had to ask her a few questions...

TG: Which love lie seems to be the hardest for women to break? 

DJG: Love Lie #1: "Love is found." It is the most fundamental. The one on which all of the others are "built." It is the basis of our confusion about the nature of love itself. And then our confused, toxic unhealthy behaviors in love relationships are a reflection of this warped understanding of love.

TG: We are encouraged to be our sisters keeper. How can you help a friend who is operating "in her girl" to operate "in her woman"?  

DJG: The number one way is to get her a copy of the book. Second is to work on first making the shift yourself, and she begins to notice a different way of believing, thinking, talking and interacting from you. Thirdly would be to be accountability partners together in practicing and embodying the Love Truths presented in the book.

TG:Singles often complain about the lack of available women/men for them to date. You address this in the book, but what can you say to women and men who are single? 

DJG: Most females are operating from Love Lie #7, which addresses our traditional approach to dating, as we've done it. It has been about judging and assessing men, constantly and it doesn't work. There are plenty of available men to date, but our fantasy Requirements List, that not even we, personally, could fulfill, keep us being very judgmental and "rejection" oriented. We've bought into a major scarcity mindset that creates blinders, has us be very CLOSED, Pessimistic, resigned, bitter, and looking mean. Looking mean is the equivalent of a CLOSED sign to a man.

TG: What has been the most frequently seen love lie in 2014? 

DJG: Love Lie #4: "Self-love is optional." The pop culture around relationships tends to focus on the man as the object or target so we miss the connection between the critical significance of our primary relationship being based in love and our ability to Recognize it (VERSUS confuse it with lust, co-dependency, control, possession, etc.), know how love behaves when it is present and freed up within us, and thus how it behaves when experienced between two in a love relationship. 

When we're out of touch with the active experience of love in our primary human relationship - the one with ourselves - then we falsely believe it can be gotten, found or taken from another. FALSE! The relationship with self is what we extend and is reflected in a relationship with another. It is the very lens through which we perceive and also experience relationships with men, and even in our friendships with women.

There is a lot of helpful tools and wisdom for women to use to change the way that they see relationships. Do you have any relationship questions? You can submit them to bliss4singles@gmail.com and I will ask Debrena during our Exposing the Love Lies event

October 17, 2014

5 ways to be faithful to your future spouse

By Tatianah Green
“Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?” Proverbs 20:6 NIV
“Lots of people claim to be loyal and loving, but where on earth can you find one?” Proverbs 20: 6 MSG

In today’s world, finding a loyal or faithful person is hard to do. We see this all the time in TV shows, here it in music, watch it in movies and read it in books. There's even a post on 10 ways a married person is not faithful to their spouse. And of course it’s all up in the Bible. 

In dating and relationships, it’s difficult to find loyal people because there are so many factors that get in our way of being loyal, loving, and faithful to another human being. Shoot, we have those same hang-ups being faithful to God. But thankfully God is so faithful to us. In this time of singleness, we can actively wait on our spouses and better yet—be faithful to them before we even meet them. Here are 5 ways how:

Self-Love: Self-love or lack of it is the root of many people’s issues in singleness. I’ve had aha moments when I realized that my self esteem, self worth and value was too low and I was settling for the wrong men as a result. I was attracting my own kind, those who thought they had confidence but it was weaker than it should have been. In order for singles to become faithful and true to their future spouse, they must learn to love and be true to themselves. “To thine own self be true,” sounds like it’s in the Bible, but it’s actually a quote from a Shakespeare play *cues the “The More You Know” star wipe*

This comes from practicing to love yourself, celebrate you and be around people who love, support and speak life into you. You have to believe that you are God’s creation, fearfully and wonderfully made for His plans and glory. You have value because God said so. That’s one way of starting to love yourself and accept yourself. The more steps that you take to learning what God says about you and to not care what people say about you, the more you will have self love. Our book of the month"The Love Lies," mentions a lot on self care and self love as well for further reference.

Self Control: “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self control.” Proverbs 25:28 NIV You can replace “man” with “person” in that text because both sexes have issues with self control. This is very important to tackle during your single season because this has much to do with discipline. No matter what age you’re in, self-control will get tested. We often tend to explore our boundaries are we leave home and create an independent life for ourselves. 

You have a lot more freedom per se, but that doesn’t mean you can handle it. Are you disciplined enough to keep your hands, lips and other body parts to yourself on a date or in a relationship? If the answer is no, you may have some self control issues. Wise people learn to control what they say, receive and do. For example, you can’t blame your hormones or the other person for sexual slip ups. You’re an adult, and at this point you have a responsibility to guard your heart and protect your temple. If you’re celibate but you drink heavily, smoke, cuss, etc. without making the effort to slow or stop those efforts, then self control/discipline is your area to work on.

Think about what are some bad habits for you that you want to change in relation to control. You can stop those habits and discipline yourself to do better. We are constantly being pruned and refined by God. You won’t meet your spouse a perfect person, but the effort that you make to be in control of your emotions, body, and actions, the better partner you will be to them. You will also be more equipped to handle the temptations and pressures that will come in the marriage. Pray for God to increase your patience, strength, perseverance, and understanding in times when your self control is tested. We all need more self control in the Church.

Read more of the ways you can be faithful to your future spouse in the Saved Singles Men and Saved Singles Women sections!

October 15, 2014

What love lies have you believed? [Video]

National Best-Selling Author and Love Relationships Mentor Debrena Jackson Gandy
is coming to Chicago on her nationwide book tour and
we have collaborated for an event for the single and married ladies! 

Her new book is called "The Love Lies: 10 Revelations that will Transform Your Relationships and Enrich Your Love Life." I'll be reading the book and posting a post-read Q&A with Debrena here next week. 

Ladies, you don't want to miss this event! Join me for a fun and inspirational ladies night out! Bring a friend and bring your questions for the Q&A portion!

Did I mention that it's my birthday weekend too?! 
Come celebrate with me and get some cake from My Bites & Delights

See you on October 25th, Chicago! 

*Media partnership with Prayze Cafe Radio 1570 AM* 

Bloggers note: In the midst of promoting this event, frequent posting has slowed down a little bit and for that I apologize. I don't want to just put anything out there for you. There will be a new blog post by Friday. Love you all!

October 8, 2014

When to stop giving potential a chance

By Tatianah Green

I have noticed that in the past couple of years, the term “potential” in the areas of dating seems to have transitioned into taboo land. I remember growing up watching Tyler Perry films and hearing from relationship experts back in the day (perhaps 10 years ago) to “give a chance to someone with potential.” That a man who’s got the potential to be the man you desire is better than not having a man at all. That women’s standards were too high or picky to attain the man that they desire with the Benz and six-figure and abs to match. That we as women had overlooked our brothas with potential like the blue collar worker with a dream in his heart. Ladies, do you remember these statements? I think even Steve Harvey mentioned that in his infamous book or film Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.

Nowadays, it seems like the pendulum has swung in the opposite yet not-so-new direction in regards to our attitude with the word potential. I’ve seen many people state that you shouldn’t be with someone because they have “potential” to be something great or to be your spouse. This logic towards potential suggests that it might not be enough to start or keep the relationship. It’s advised for singles to accept the person for who they are in that moment not getting caught up in the ideas and hopes that you have of what they could be. Now these might not even be your ideas or hopes, they can be what the person told you that they were doing or aspiring to be. But here’s the thing: if you didn’t know this person previously, there’s a risk that they are lying to keep you in their potential trap.

Maybe they’re going back to school to get that degree, certificate or skill. Maybe they have this grand idea for a business and they told you about it and you feel special because you got the inside scoop into their dream.  Maybe they’re in between jobs and are looking for their breakthrough. Maybe they go to church but are unsure or immature about their walk with the Lord. 

At some point, you’re going to start seeing results of their work or not because potential that’s not active is not possible, it’s just unlikely. What will you find? As someone who has dated both lazy and ambitious young men, I can say that there needs to be evidence. If they’re just giving you lip service with no blue prints, long hours at work, effort, etc. then the potential is going to wane and you’re going to get frustrated. You called yourself being a good, non-judgmental Christian by seeing this person for more than what they are right now and tried to see what God sees in them, but did you see yourself in this journey of theirs? Let’s take it a little further...

Read more of this post in the Saved Singles Men or Saved Singles Women sections!

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

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?