Faith and the Fear of Breast Cancer

I have had a fear of cancer for a very long time now. I can’t identify what caused this fear to take root in me but I can recall, at the age of 17, sitting on the couch crying for hours waiting for my mom to get home because I felt a lump in my breast. She was concerned as well so she took me to see the doctor who told me it was just a cyst and I was too young to be concerned. The doctor’s words did not abate my fears.

I have been so gripped with fear throughout these years that I neglected my health. I was not performing the self breast exams and I would let several years lapse between mammograms. I didn’t want to know. I preferred not to know. I knew better but I did not do better.

All the while I felt like such a hypocrite when I would declare “I give myself away to you God!” The Holy Spirit continuously reminded me that I was not trusting God with every facet of my life. Instinctively, when I read the bible, I would cling to scripture that spoke to having a long and abundant life. The best way for me to remember things is to write them down so I would write scriptures in notebooks and diary’s. I wanted the scripture to become more than just words on a page. I wanted my being…my soul…to accept it as truth.

But I was caught off guard by what happened last month. It had been a couple of years since my last Women’s Wellness Check so I made an appointment with my doctor for an exam. She spent about five minutes reminding me how irresponsible it was for me to let the time lapse and that I should see her at least once a year for an exam. I agreed. I had nothing to say and accepted her rebuke. I appreciated her concern and had made up my mind that it would not happen again. I just felt foolish for being afraid.

We scheduled an appointment for my mammogram before I left her office. It was basically the same as my previous mammograms except now I had an option for 3D imaging. I accepted that option. I was in and out of the imaging center in less than 30 minutes. It took about a week for a nurse from my doctor’s office to call to let me know all test results were normal and she will see me again next year.

Much to my surprise I received a call from the radiologist at the imaging center nearly two weeks from my exam date telling me I needed to return because my exam showed an abnormality. I couldn’t comprehend a word she was telling me because my mind was trying to recall the phone call from the nurse at my doctor’s office telling me everything was okay. I spoke my full name to the radiologist and asked her is it me she wanted to talk to. She responded, “Yes.” I told her I didn’t understand so she began to explain that I was in their office 2 weeks ago for an exam and the result shows an abnormality so I needed to schedule an appointment immediately for a magnified mammogram and ultrasound. The radiologist call was interrupted by my doctor’s office calling but I allowed her to finish, scheduled a return visit and then returned the call to my doctor.

I had mixed emotions running through me as I spoke to my doctor’s nurse. I was angry because I was certain they gave me the “all clear” just a week prior. I was in denial thinking that this was just an insurance scam….just another reason to bill my insurance and I was afraid that I may have breast cancer. Nevertheless, I quietly listened to the nurse give me the results of the exam.

I received the call from the radiologist and my doctor’s office on a Tuesday and my return appointment was on a Thursday. As I sat there in my robe waiting for my exam, I was unbelievably calm. All the scriptures that I had meditated on came to my mind…”many are the afflictions of the righteous but God delivers them out of them all (Psalm 34:19),” and “consider it pure joy when you face trials (James 1:2-4). I kept saying to myself, you can bank on God’s promises so don’t worry. I prayed that if this trial/tribulation was part of His plan that he would give me the strength to endure. I reminded God that His child…yeah me…was a “punk” and I would require supernatural strength! I was at peace in that moment…I began to cry because I felt overwhelmed by God’s love and affirmation that I was His!

The ladies in the room began to glance my way. Soon one of the nurses approached me and tried to comfort me by reminding me that we don’t know the outcome yet. I told her I was crying because regardless, benign or malignant, I will be okay. I was confident that I would see the other side of this. Come what may….I will be okay.

I wish I could express in words how liberating this revelation was to me. To trust God and His plan through trials and tribulations is a lot different than trusting God through the good times. To completely have faith in Him meant that I needed to trust Him when things are difficult, painful (emotionally and physically), and disappointing! I needed to truly believe that whatever happened God will work things out for my good. God has made us promises and I am learning everyday how to stand firmly on those promises in full expectations of seeing them come to pass in my life.

By living in the fullness of what God has for me I will experience many good days and some bad days but EVERY day He is here with me! And on those bad days, I will call on Him to give me strength to make it another day and to give me wisdom to understand and appreciate His plan for me.

After the magnified imaging and ultrasound, the radiologist confirmed that there was a solid mass there and I needed a biopsy performed. The biopsy was scheduled and I went home. The first call I made after my husband was my mother. I just needed to confirm that I truly honored her over the years. We both laughed and my mom reassured me that everything would be okay.

The biopsy wasn’t the most pleasant procedure but it needed to be done.   And less than 48 hours later, I received the call that the pathologist indicated that it was benign; however, I now need mammograms every 6 months. And, ladies and gentlemen, I will be sure to get them every 6 months.

I have known many people who suffered through cancer. Some have seen the other side to better health and some are resting in peace but both are loved by God! In sickness and in health, through good days and on bad days, His strength is available to us all to endure the journey…we only need to trust Him. Below are some scriptures that have helped me overcome my fear.

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. (Proverbs 3: 1-2)

Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”(Ephesians 6:2-3)

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all (Psalm 34:19)

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)

What Appears Right May Be Wrong

One could probably guess, since I live in the DC/Maryland/Northern Virginia (DMV) area that daily anger interventions may be necessary. However, I’ve taken the politicking, aggressive driving and traffic congestion in stride because there is a lot to be enjoyed in the area. But, somehow I was taken by surprise at what happened at what I thought would be a quick and uneventful trip to the store.

I departed to go to the store at a time when traffic was least congested in hopes of getting to the store and returning at a reasonable time. All was going well until I got to the cashier to pay for my items. As I approached the desk to put my merchandise on the counter, a young lady quickly approached me and asked if she could go before me because she was on her lunch break and needed to return to work quickly. “No problem,” I responded. As she only had one item, her transaction was completed quickly. So, I began placing my items on the counter. Out of what seemed like nowhere, a lady approached the cashier and asked him why would he ring me up before her? Huh? I was honestly confused and so was the cashier but he did not speak. Where had she come from? Who is she? Before I could clear my head from the confusion she then proceeded to tell me that she knew I would be at the desk when she arrived. She told me to stop following her and that she knew I was the CIA. Again, huh? I didn’t know how to respond. I was truly baffled. She was acting a bit aggressive and speaking loudly. She continued on her rant about how America was going to Hell especially the CIA and then pulled out her cell phone and dialed the police. She told the person who was on the phone that there is a lady (me) following her and she needed to report it.

Believe it or not, I had the presence of mind to pray. I asked God what He wanted me to do or say in this moment. My spirit was not quickened to do anything but stay silent. Again, I asked, “Anything God? What should I do?” But I was not compelled to say or do anything but be mindful of my surroundings. The cashier continued to ring me up. He completed my transaction but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving. I asked him if he wanted me to notify anyone and he stated “no, everything would be okay.”

I spent days thinking about this incident…punishing myself for not reacting appropriately. But, what was appropriate? What was right?

Respond in Anger

I have never been a person to respond in anger so it was far from me to respond in that way on this occasion. Albeit, the lady was ranting quite loudly and acting aggressive, I was not compelled to respond likewise. I learned decades ago that you can’t “fight fire with fire.” It just doesn’t work. On most occasions, it only escalates the matter.

In fact, God’s word teaches me to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires (James 1:19). I can’t imagine being able to rightly think with my head and heart in anger. In fact, it seems like she was giving full vent to whatever rage she had in her for whatever reason but “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end (Proverbs 29:11).”

Respond with Encouraging or Enlightening Words?

I really really wanted God to inspire me to say something that would encourage or enlighten the lady but nothing came to mind. I mean nothing. After thinking about what happened, I have come to realize that the only appropriate response should have been God inspired. Of course, I could have quoted scripture but would that have meant anything to her. In God’s time and under God’s direction are seeds planted and watered. I Corinthians 3: 7-9 (NIV) tells me that “neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” As a co-worker in God’s service, I can only plant and water as directed by God.

On this occasion, nothing came to mind. I know what my human knowledge and human understanding was telling me would be the appropriate response. But, I live in the Spirit. If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). What may give the appearance of being right may not actually been appropriate or helpful.

Respond in Silence

Perhaps God did answer. Perhaps my silence was the response God wanted from me. If the lady was looking for confrontation, anything I said could have escalated the matter.

The truth is that my disappointment in my response was due to me thinking I knew what God wanted. Instead of praying, waiting for His reply and trusting that reply, I felt there was more I should be doing. I have come to realize that we are all broken in different places and that God heals us in those distinct places according to His plan. And, my silence is how he chose to use me that day. There was no further incident. She left the store shortly after I did. And, I pray that God heals whatever ails her.

Who’s There for Me?

Who’s there for me? I found myself asking that question for about two (2) decades of my life. Refusing to throw myself a pity party, time after time, I would pick up my “cross” and bear what seemed like a burden of doing good. If a nephew was graduating, an aunt was hosting a cookout or a friend was celebrating an accomplishment, no matter the distance, I made it my priority to be there to support my family/friends and to fellowship. If there was a scheduling conflict, I would still try to represent my love in deed…perhaps a bouquet of flowers or some other gift of love.

Growing up, I seemed to have known way too many people who felt no need to reciprocate my love and kindness….to do unto others as they would like done unto themselves. I have had many true friends who spoke plainly to me in telling me to let go of the toxic people in my life. I refused. I didn’t think that was the Christian thing to do. So, I continued to allocate myself, my time, my money and my love on people who didn’t appreciate its priceless value.

There were people in my life that would get upset at how I prioritize family and friends. On numerous occasions I have been pulled aside by concerned friends for an “Intervention Session” in which they would implore me to, once again, let go of specific toxic people in my life. But, again, I refuse to heed the advice.

I can recall receiving warnings as early as 19. My college roommate and I decided we would spend spring break at my home. She was excited because she lived in another state. By the time we returned to our dorm a week later, my college roommate sat me down to discuss some concerns she had about some of my friends AND family. “Oh my, the audacity of this girl,” is all I can think as she spoke. The things she said hurt me and I was upset with her for saying them. But, two decades later, I was receiving the same message about the same people from different people.

It took me a long time to come to the realization that it was okay to stop loving so hard. Honestly, I allowed myself to be completely broken by the toxic people in my life before I got the message. As a result of this journey I learned 4 things: 1) it’s okay to stop or reduce interaction with toxic family and friends; 2) learn how to love from a distance; 3) don’t ever let your light dim; and 4) don’t grow weary in doing right.

It’s okay to stop or reduce interaction with toxic friends and family

How would I define “toxic people”? Well, the toxic people in my life had one or more of the following characteristics:

  • They make you feel uncomfortable being yourself;
  • They tend to take (joy, love, time, happiness, peace, money, sacrifice) but don’t give;
  • They bring out the worst in you as opposed to the best;
  • They are constantly negative; and,
  • They love in words but not in deeds.

I am a naturally joyful person but around some of the toxic people in my life that was being “phony.” Huh? I didn’t understand the logic. So grimacing is “keeping it real.” They couldn’t see how I could genuinely care about a stranger enough to say “hello” or smile. They were a constant stumbling block…encouraging me to be divisive, angry, hurtful and selfish to name just a few. It is difficult having a conversation with them because of their snarky nature. On occasion, I would get a Facebook “like” or a text message but nothing of substance that says….”I see you and I love you.”

I now know it is okay to stop or reduce interaction with such people. God’s word says:

“I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts (Psalm 119:63)”

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24)”

“The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray (Proverbs 12:26).”
“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’ (I Corinthians 15:33).”

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm (Proverbs 13:20).”

“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared (Proverbs 22:24-25).”

Learn How to Love From a Distance

Phone calls, greeting cards and/or “just because I love you” packages are becoming a new norm for me. I have given it all to God and now wait for His direction on what I should do. Until such time as He finds it okay for me to mix and mingle with the toxic people in my life, I will keep my distance. What’s most important to me is that I am able to let them know I still love them in the things I do for them. I just have to limit my deeds to those that do not involve interaction.

Don’t Ever Let Your Light Dim

I think this is what caused me to eventually change how I interacted with the toxic people in my life. I began to become angry…ensnared. I would leave their presence and immediately feel regret for my actions and deeds. If I can’t be me when in the presence of others (family or friends), then I shouldn’t be around them. I have learned to surround myself around people who encourage me to shine my light brightly….and I LOVE IT!! I asked God to bring people in my life that encourage and strengthen me in my walk with Him and He is continuously answering my prayers. Every year I meet someone(s) new that loves God just as much as I do and are not uncomfortable with me saying and acting so.

Don’t Grow Weary in Doing What is Right

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).” Yep, it’s in the Bible…and “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).”

I pray that the lessons I have learned throughout the years may bless others going through the same. There is absolutely nothing wrong with loving and doing good. God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:38) and to pray for those who mistreat us (Luke 6:28). We also need to be mindful of those we keep regular company.

Student to Teacher: Reflections

Danyelle 1This year has presented a lot of challenges, changes, and development for me. As a 2013 graduate, fresh out of college, I decided to switch from the role of student to the role of teacher. When I started my role as a corps member for an educational non-profit, I envisioned myself as somewhat of a humanitarian with a certain agenda. I planned to go into the school system and make a significant difference in the life of every child that I encountered. I was going to inspire them, I was going to motivate them and I was going to save them from the negative influences of the world. I was ready to conquer and I was ready to teach! I mean, I went to college and I’ve been through my fair share of life so what could possibly go wrong??!

Reflecting on this year with my students, I’ve realized that I am the one learning an abundance of new information. There is nothing that truly prepares you to teach or even to learn. They’re both processes of life and they happen simultaneously through life experiences.   Working with eighth graders of varying personalities, strengths, talents, and challenges has given me an opportunity to learn what it takes to really motivate people. By understanding what is important to my students, what makes them unique as people, and what they are responsive to, I have been able to inspire them. My agenda now has shifted from “saving my students” to showing my students that someone cares about them. I’ve learned that simply showing that you care has been the greatest motivating tool and allows people you care about to “save” themselves.

Simultaneously, during this period of revelations in my life, I found myself in a new church where I’m also learning and growing spiritually. I usually find myself so wrapped up in learning Scripture and engraining it in my heart. My greatest hope is to be able to eventually teach others and help them grow nearer to God. In the meantime, I learn and I observe until it is His will to have me inspire others. There have been many things that I have learned through Scripture and through being a student that I believe will help me be more ready to help others:

  1. Patience

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19 NIV

In order to do what’s in the Scripture above, we need to exercise patience. We should be patient with others as we are patient with ourselves. Everyone has their own individual learning journey. Everything will happen at its own appointed time. We must be patient though and slow to become frustrated. We must be diligent.

Every day, I consistently tell my students different ways of managing self-control. Some days, it feels like nothing I tell them is getting through. I tell them to be patient and quiet as they raise their hand to get the attention of the teacher and as soon as I turn around I hear a student scream, “Miss! MISS!” Students are constantly in verbal combat over who can say the most degrading things to each other and neither will “take the high road”. In report card conferences, I hear way too many “She gave me an “F”, because she doesn’t like me!” instead of I earned an “F” because I sleep in class. Then, one day a student says, “Ms. Danyelle, I listened to what you said and ignored those girls that said something mean to me. Now, they’re upset and I’m chillin’.” Although this seems like a minor feat, this student has taken a step towards being able to manage their emotions. There are unseen processes that are happening within the learner, but if the teacher is consistent and diligent, the learning does take place. It’s important to be patient.

  1. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:37-40).”

God said it! Therefore, we can only conclude that loving your neighbor is SUPER important. We cannot say that we love one another if we draw barriers with our preconceived notions and judgment. We cannot draw closer to one another and draw others closer to God unless we try to understand, empathize with, and truly love one another.

 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be (James 3:9-10 NIV)

It’s important to always be considerate of one another. We cannot say that we truly love God if we do not love others made in God’s image. We have all fallen from grace. We must humble ourselves before God and love one another, “flaws and all”.

  1. Humility

Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be. Job 8:7 NIV

God is always at work to lift up those who are humble. So, we should always stay clear of false pride. Everything that man is proud of is temporary, it fades. High positions, power, money, and clothes are all here today and gone tomorrow. Those who remain humble, have a bright future.

I can see humility within my students and myself. Those who are bold enough to admit their faults and ask for help, receive it. Those who remain prideful and chase away help that comes to them, generally have a harder time maintaining. I admit freely when I have made a mistake or if I simply do not know an answer with my students. Now, that they know that I as an adult, a human being, make mistakes they feel free to admit their own and feel more comfortable.

  1. Be diligent

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 1 Timothy 4:15 NIV

We must be diligent in teaching and learning “…because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” We must be consistent, we must constantly be striving to do better and we must always share our experiences with others.

There are many things that are important in teaching, but one of the most important things has to be organization and consistency. In a world where everything is constantly changing, God stays the same…his Word stays the same. We must mirror this in our studying and our actions.

 

Danyelle 2Danyelle Lashay graduated from Howard University with her Bachelor of Arts in Economics. She is currently completing a year of service with City Year Greater Philadelphia. Danyelle looks forward to starting a graduate program in Public Administration & International Education Management at Monterey Institute of International Studies, a graduate school of Middlebury College in the Fall. She enjoys sharing her insight about education, current events, and spirituality. You can follow her on Twitter, @Mitchell_Dany.

My Hope: 4 Reasons to Rejoice

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (I Peter 3:15).

By the time I reached the age of 6, I had a considerable amount of reasons to feel despair. With every passing year the more heartache, disappointments and defeats began to mount. At certain points in my life, it became really difficult to remain optimistic about my outlook. However, today I can say with certainty that my Savior never let me go. He was always there….that “flickering light” of love, hope and joy within me…that notion that there is a reason to rejoice.

I Peter 3:15 says I should be prepared to give an answer to those who ask me my reasons for hope. I have countless reasons but if I had to summarize them all in one song it would be Tye Tribbett’s, He Turned It. The lyrics to the bridge of the song is

The devil thought he (had me). Thought that my life was (over). He thought by now I’d (give up). He thought I had no (more). But that’s when someone (Greater). Stepped in my (situation). My morning has now begun…”

The lyrics to the bridge of this song alone succinctly express my reason for hope. Quite simply, I am hopeful because: 1) Jesus died and rose to save me, 2) I am the Child of the Most High God, 3) I am Heir to God’s promises, and 4) there will be no more sorrow or tears.

Jesus Died and Rose to Save Me

Saved from Death: There is a lot in God’s word that has helped me to understand the magnitude of my Heavenly Father’s love for me. He sent His only begotten Son as a sacrifice so that I may have eternal life (John 3:16). I no longer have to fear death. I now know that because I believe that Jesus is the only begotten son of my Heavenly Father and that He came into this world to save me and have risen and now sit on the right hand of my Heavenly Father, I shall have eternal life. So what shall I fear? I know if I continue to believe what the world tells me and all of the “noise” around me, I have lots to fear but that is not truth. I have to continue to meditate on the truth of eternal life so that I stay firm in my joy when everything around me indicates I should be in despair.

When I take a moment to truly grasp the magnitude of the love God has for me I become overwhelmed with emotion. I imagine sending one of my daughters into the lion’s den to save…let’s say, an enemy. Would I do it? While I know when all is said and done my daughter will be okay….just the thought of her being tortured, even for a moment, is unbearable. But, God love me so much that He did just that. Jesus was sent as an atoning sacrifice for me….for you. What a love! I don’t think I will ever fully understand and appreciate the magnitude of such love in my present state.

Saved from a Worldly life: There is a peace…a completeness…a purposeful feeling when walking in the will of my Heavenly Father. I have a testimony of doing things my way…living a worldly life with all the emptiness it provides. But, it pales in comparison to living for my Heavenly Father, through Jesus.

Scripture teaches me in Chapter 2 of Titus that “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good (v. 11-14).”

I recall a time in my life that I was often criticized by people I considered to be friends. I would often hear words like “holier than thou,” and “bible thumping.” Initially, it really hurt that my friends didn’t understand. I was confused because my friends attended church and, on most occasions, were kind. In my youth I would, on occasion, listen to provocative music and attend parties that made me uncomfortable just to show people I am not perfect.   With age, I no longer wanted to prove anything to anyone but God. With my life, I want to show that I am grateful for His love, mercy and grace. Every day, I learn what giving my life over to the Holy Spirit means….what it looks like. I am no longer invited to as many parties as before and people tend to study me intensely looking for imperfection so that they can declare “that I’m not a real Christian!”

Child of the Most High God

God’s word tells me that as a believer, I am now a child of God (Galatians 3:26; John 1:12). I get excited thinking about what that means. As a mother, I know how it feels to love and care for a child. I know that all that I can provide for my children, I will and do…by the grace of God. So much more so must be the care God has for His children. God’s word confirms that “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matt. 7:11).” God also tells me that His plans for me are prosperous (Jeremiah 29:11) and that “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).”

Even more exciting about being a child of the Most High God is to know I have an inheritance. “This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time (I Peter 1: 4-5).”

Heir to God’s Promises

The reason for my hope is that I know I am heir to God’s promises. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29). God promises me long life on earth (Ephesians 6:3), peace (John 14:27; Proverbs 1:33), power and strength (Isaiah 40:29-31), and to supply all my needs (Philippians 4:19). These are a few of many of God’s promises.

No More Sorrows or Tears

God reveals in the 21st chapter of Revelation that upon Jesus return there will be no death, sorrow and mourning.

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:1-4)”

There will also be singing and everlasting joy:

And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away (Isaiah 35: 8-10).

These are my reasons….my 4 reasons to love, rejoice and live in the fullness of the day the Lord has made! 4 reasons for trusting God.  4 reasons to forever abound in love, hope, peace and joy!

Survey Says: My Wife is My Best Friend?

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life (Proverbs 31: 10-12).

 I was more than excited to receive the results of the recent survey conducted by Google Consumer Survey on behalf of Love Ann Joy. The results in the table below are very promising and encouraging.

My Wife is My Best Friend Survey (Percentage of all Respondents)

 

Yes No Total
All Men Respondents 40.7% 6.7% 47.4%
Men age 18 – 24 20.0% 3.3% 23.3%
Men age 25 – 34 39.3% 7.5% 46.8%
Men age 35 – 44 42.9% 14.3% 57.2%
Men age 45 – 54 50.0% 0.0% 50.0%
Men age 55 – 64 48.9% 6.7%

55.6%

Men 65+ 44.7% 7.9% 55.6%

Methodology: Conducted by Google Consumer Survey May 10-12, 2014 and based on 253 online responses. Sample: National Adult Internet Population

What do all those numbers mean?

In one sentence, it means that out of the 253 adult men that responded to the survey, 120 were married…which represented 47.4% of the respondents. But the good news is that 86% of the adult married men indicated that their wife was their best friend.

That is not good news, it is great news!

You want to hear more great news? When the survey results were broken out by age group, most of the married men in every age group considered their wife their best friend…even the younger men. Specifically, 86% of the married men age 18-24 and 88% of the men age 55-64 considered their wife their best friend. Furthermore more than half of the men age 55 and older indicated that they were married.

Now the Concern!

While I was impressed that 100% of the men age 45-54 considered their wives to be their best friend, I was also concerned. The table above seems to indicate that men may experience challenges in their marriage beginning in their mid thirty’s. While more than 57% of the men surveyed in the 35 – 44 age group were married, they had the highest rate (14.3%) of respondents who indicated that their wife is NOT their best friend. Of even more concern is the smaller percentage of men age 45 – 54 who indicated they were married. This seems to be consistent with the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data from the America’s Families and Living Arrangement Survey which shows that the divorce rate doubles for men age 35-44 and triples for men age 45-54.

These results had me pondering the question if between the ages of 35 – 54 marriages (both men and women) need a strong support system and if mid-life crisis is to blame for these trends. Dr. Calarusso, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of San Diego indicated that he most often sees men struggling with midlife questions in their 40s and early 50s (Webmd).

According to an article by Lori Sandoval titled, Midlife crisis is real, loneliest point of men and women in their early forties: Study, “midlife crisis is real, taking the happiness level of both men and women at its lowest from the ages of 40 to 42, after which things begin to pick up again.” Perhaps if married men and women are aware of what is possibly ahead, they could be prepared to weather the storm.

Why was the Survey Conducted?

It is oh so common to turn on the television or read in the newspaper tragic divorce rates and statistics. And, I understand that sometimes divorce…while painful, is the only option. In fact, scripture addresses divorce when adultery has been committed.

This survey was conducted for encouragement to all married couples, especially those that feel within their spirit that more could be done…more could be said to strengthen their marriage and the bond between them and their spouse. I was hoping that the results would tell us more about each other. I believe knowing what is ahead may prepare married couples to weather the “stormy times.”

Alan J. Hawkins, Ph.D & Tamara A. Fackrell, J.D. state in their guidebook, Should I Keep Trying to Work it Out: A Guidebook for Individuals and Couples at the Crossroads of Divorce (And Before) that:

“The most common reasons people give for their divorce are lack of commitment, too much arguing, infidelity, marrying too young, unrealistic expectations, lack of equality in the relationship, lack of preparation for marriage, and abuse. Some of these problems can be fixed and divorce prevented. Commitment is having a long-term view of the marriage that helps us not get overwhelmed by the problems and challenges day to day. When there is high commitment in a relationship, we feel safer and are willing to give more for the relationship to succeed. Commitment is clearly a factor in why some couples stay together and others divorce.

I am willing to wager that most of the men who responded to our survey have never told their wife that she is their best friend.  From experience I know that most men aren’t big talkers so to know that the married men who took our survey considered their wives their best friends is encouraging. I often say that I am broken and only made whole through Jesus Christ. So, I no longer look for perfection in others when I know that only through Christ we are perfected.

It is my belief that the more we know about each other and what to expect in marriage, the stronger our commitment.

 He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22).

 

 

References:

 

 

Role Call: A Mother’s Love

As the day to celebrate and honor mom approaches, I couldn’t help but think about motherhood and how it has changed my life. I must admit, as a child and young adult I didn’t really appreciate the magnitude of my mom’s role in my life. It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I fully understood the reason for the many “no’s” and “not now’s” I got growing up.

While I have always loved my mom and at an early age I learned to honor her (Ephesians 6:1-3), my depth of love and appreciation for her didn’t manifest until I had children of my own and she was there and is still there any time we need her. Raising daughters of my own has taught me a few things: 1) selflessness, 2) discipline is necessary, 3) lead by example and 4) pass on the wisdom learned from your mistakes to your children.

Selfless Nurturer
Over the years, I have learned that I need to re-define love. The foundation of true love is selflessness. This has proven to be difficult for me to apply to those who hurt me. Blessing and praying for those who hurt me (Luke 6:27-28) is far from how I originally defined love. However, raising daughters showed me how selfless love looks. It introduced me to how to truly love.

Related Post: The Ultimate Payback:  Lesson in Selflessness

As many mother’s know, motherhood is a thankless job. But, interestingly enough….we don’t require thanks. It gives me great joy and pleasure to watch my daughters grow into young ladies. Through the tantrums, rebellion and “I hate you’s”, I still love my daughters. I don’t believe there is anything they could do to stop my love for them. Much like how our Heavenly Father loves us….unconditionally.

I love the role of nurturing my daughters. Feeding them emotionally and spiritually is a required part of being mom. They receive so many messages from their environment (friends, teachers, and others) I’m sure it is difficult for them to determine which way is right…which way is right for them. So establishing Christian principles…introducing my girls to the Lord was not an option for our house. With every rejection, heartbreak and disappointment I want my girls to know: 1) they are loved, 2) they can do all things through Christ which strengthens them (Philippians 4:13) and 3) while challenges are an inevitable part of living, weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning light (Psalm 30:5). I encourage them to pursue the dreams that God has placed in their heart (Psalm 37:4-6) and to be prepared for the obstacles that may be placed in their way to hinder them. And most importantly, test all things (I Thessalonians 5:21). God’s Word is the only authority and to be mindful of things that don’t align with His word. Looking at how my mother is still nurturing me, my brothers, my sisters and her grandkids, I look forward to my nurturing role being lifelong.

Disciplinary
As my daughters navigate their way through adulthood, there are many times along the journey that they may lose their way. As teens, it is my job to discipline them. While it is the hardest thing to do, it is also necessary. Just looking back on my teenage years, gives me an understanding of what teenagers and their parents endure. I believe it was during my teenage years that I most felt the disciplinary hand of my mom. I guess it is a rite of passage for teenagers. According to Psychology Today, the teenage years are

“considered the transitional stage from childhood to adulthood. However, the physical and psychological changes that occur in adolescence can start earlier, during the preteen or “tween” years (ages 9-12). Adolescence can be a time of both disorientation and discovery. The transitional period can bring up issues of independence and self-identity. Sometimes adolescents may be experimenting with drugs and alcohol or sexuality. During this time, peer groups and external appearance tend to increase in importance.”

The teenage years can be the most difficult times in families as moms and dads try to stay firm in instilling respect for others, especially their elders as well as for established rules and laws.

Teacher
Not only did I have to help my girls with their Algebra and Trigonometry, I also try to lead by example. If I want my girls to have principles and stand by them then I must do the same. The same goes for rules. If I want them to follow established rules I need to do the same. Believe me they are watching and taking notes. I remember driving above the speed limit and my oldest daughter was in the front seat reading the speed limit every time we passed the sign. As I said….they are watching.

“Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it.” Proverbs 22:6

Adviser
Anytime I can insert a “lessons learned” session with my girls I do so. Along the way I have made enough mistakes to create a “mini-series” and I don’t want it to be all for naught. I pray that my girls don’t make the same mistakes I made so as they get older and experience challenges, trials and tribulations I try to insert the wisdom I learned through “hard knocks.”

This thing called motherhood has been the most challenging but joyful part of my life. With the many roles mom play in their children’s life it is only appropriate that they are celebrated….honored.

So on this mother’s day, don’t hesitate to let your mom know how much she means to you….her job may be joyous but it is not easy.

“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate (Proverbs 31:31)

References:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/adolescence

I Can’t Maintain My Weight Loss! What’s the Deal?

Please tell me I’m not the only one…every year I bring in the New Year with the motivation and discipline of 10 armies. By the time February rolls around I have established a new eating and workout routine in which I typically stick with for 1-3 months so when spring arrives I am eager to feel the warm breeze whisk my “2 sizes smaller spring dress” in the wind. I am committed. I am disciplined. And, I am seeing results. So why can’t I maintain my weight loss?

Well, life happens. You know……stress at the job, at home, with my friends or extended family. Yeah…life. Without fail something happens to test my resolve. And for the past 10 years I have failed miserably at staying on course until I achieved my desired size and weight. Quite honestly, I am not so enamored with how much I weigh but more so my dimensions (inches/size).

In the past 10 years, I have tried at least 5 diets. Let’s see, I have tried Atkins, Medifast, Weight Watchers, the Lemonade diet and now I am sold on the Daniel Plan. In conjunction with my diets I have tried Tae-Bo Original, Billy Blank Bootcamp, Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30, Insanity, Hip Hob Abs and Cathe Friedrich Low Impact Series workout plans.

As you can see, I have inundated my body with the whole gamut of diets. And through it all, I discovered that my problem wasn’t that I couldn’t lose the weight. With every single diet and exercise plan I lost weight. I lost the most weight with Atkins but coming in close second is the Daniel’s Plan (veggie juice, steamed veggies and fish/chicken). Furthermore, with the Daniel’s Plan I felt great.

Since I am not taking any medicine nor do I have any illness that would inhibit weight loss, I have come to understand that for me, losing weight is purely a numbers game. 3500 calories equal a pound. So, if I eat 2000 calories a day but only burn 1850 calories per day because of my sedentary lifestyle then I will ultimately gain about a pound a month (12 pounds a year).

For years, I basically “followed the pack.” Whatever the newest diet or exercise craze, I followed. It wasn’t until my body started to rebel against the terrible way in which I had been treating it that I honestly put thought into my health. I physically wasn’t feeling well so I was forced to consider my health and ways to improve it. After a one on one with my doctor and some time for meditation, I discovered three reasons why I couldn’t maintain my weight loss.

1. I didn’t honestly consider my present circumstances
In other words, I set myself up for failure. For example, when I decided to follow the Atkins or Medifast diet, I didn’t have a long term plan on how I would implement it. I just jumped right in. Neither Atkins or Medifast are lifestyle eating plans. So, from day one I should have mapped out 1) how I would enter and exit the diet, 2) what my short term and long term goals were and 3) what my transition would look like for each milestone.

Furthermore, I should have taken notes on how my body was reacting to the diet. I was keeping track of how much weight and inches I lost but not how my health was reacting to it such as blood pressure and cholesterol. I recall when I was doing the lemonade diet, after 3 days I had to stop because I began to have bad heart palpitations. When I googled “heart palpitation and lemonade diet” I discovered that I lacked potassium which was important. So, while I was losing weight I was getting sick by it.

Today I try to be honest with myself and my level of self-control and self-discipline. I have come to learn that eating is not necessarily my biggest problem…meaning I don’t eat too much over my Basic Metabolic Rate * on a daily basis.  The foods I eat on most occasions are fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken or turkey.  In fact, I have acquired a taste for whole foods like fruits and vegetables. I prefer to juice my veggies in the morning and include veggies in every meal. There is a noticeable difference in the way I feel throughout the day when I begin my day this way.  I am conscientious of days in which I can’t get a veggie juice in the morning and try to fit it in as either a snack or a meal on that day.

Related Post:  Juicing:  My Way

I have also come to the realization that when I desire to eat a whole pumpkin or sweet potato pie it is because I am going through  emotional distress and I shouldn’t rely on food but God to pull me through it. I have been an emotional eater for so long that it is hard to break the habit but slowly but surely I will overcome. Now, when I get distressed and reach for sweets, I try to remember to get a cup of hot lemon water and sit a moment reading the bible or just praying. It works and with time it will become my norm.  This realization has been such a blessing.  Sometimes you may think everything is okay but your actions prove otherwise.  So, when I have this unusual appetite for lots of sweets, I take a moment to consider what is going on in my life.

2. I lacked conviction
When I began each new strategy to losing weight, I typically do so with the end goal of losing weight. But why? So I could look good in my clothes? Well that wasn’t enough motivation for me to stick with the diet so maybe I needed something deeper to have a true conviction. While I was overweight, but some accounts obese, I was happy. I am happy. Since changing your eating and exercising plan can be a big change in your life, how do you reconcile the need to take so much time out of your day exercising and planning meals when you are happy.

I think in my mind, I loved my life like it was (sorta’) so why change. I know I wanted to look like I did in my youth but not bad enough to make the short and long term changes it took to get there. I suffered from a lack of conviction. It wasn’t until those moments with my doctor and myself that the words of I Corinthians 6:19-20 truly entered my heart:

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

Now I am truly convicted to taking care of this temple. It has not happened overnight and I don’t expect it too. I plan to continue to strive to eat mainly whole foods, preferably organic with chicken, turkey and fish (Daniel’s Plan). Before the words of Corinthians 6:19 truly entered my heart, my body was trying to speak the truth to me as well. I just wasn’t listening.

3. I completely stop exercising
I know…shame on me. I actually love exercising….not the elliptical, exercise bike type of exercising. I actually get enjoyment out of High Intensity Interval training (HIIT) and weight lifting. I love the results I get from those types of exercises but I just need to determine a schedule that I can adhere to and stick with it. I always start out with these lofty goals like I am going to exercise everyday for 2 hours. Yeah, I never find those 2 hours so I let days and days go by. Now, anytime I have time to watch television for more than 30 minutes I get up and spend that time exercising. I figure eventually I will acquire a pattern/habit and my body will be in the shape God intended it to be.
I can’t say the past 10 years have been a waste, I have learned a lot about myself, physically, emotionally and spiritually. And, it is coming to those truths that is allowing me to break free from unhealthy habits.

Resources:
Basal Metabolic Rate Calculator (BMR)
Fitness Pal BMR Calculator:

BMR is the amount of calories burned if sedentary all day.

Review: 10 Juice Recipes

This week, I tried 10 new juice recipes.  I prefer to juice vegetables that I would eat steamed or boiled but this review I tried something new.  I added the following vegetables to my juice plan:  beets, cabbage (red and white), cauliflower, and Papaya.  And, I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the juices I liked.  In fact, I plan to rotate all of these juices into my monthly juicing plan.

My grocery bill for the fruits and vegetables alone was more than $100 this week but keep in mind that I still have plenty of fruits and vegetables left over.  I picked 5 recipes from Drew Canole’s book and 5 recipes from Juicing for Health (see my article on Juicing vs Blending for the link to these books).  I liked the Juicing for Health book the most because 1) they named the juice after its health benefit, 2) nutrition facts were included and 3) there were details about the health benefit of the juice.   One caveat about the Juicing for Health book, I have the Breville Multi-Speed juicer and the amount of juice I yield from the recipe was more than was indicated in the book.  So, going forward I will be using half of the ingredients for the recipes in the Juicing for Health book.

Here are the recipes and ingredients:

Juice Name Ingredients Nutrition Facts
Anti Acne Juice Anti-Acne Miracle Skin
  • 6 Carrots
  • ½ Green Bell Pepper
Not Provided
Get Things Moving Get Things Moving (constipation relief)
  • 8 Large Carrots
  • 2 Kiwis
  • ½ Lemon
  • 1 Green Apple
  • 1 Large Beet with greens
  • ¼ cup Spinach
  • Serving: 16 oz
  • Calories: 137
  • Fat: 1g
  • Sugar: 24g
  • Protein: 4g
  • Carbs: 42g
Flu Fighter Flu Fighter
  • 1 Medium Carrot
  • 1 Small McIntosh Apple (Red)
  • 2 cups Chopped Spinach
  • ½ inch Ginger
  • ½ Cucumber
  • Serving: 12 oz
  • Calories: 49
  • Fat: 0
  • Sugar: 8g
  • Protein: 2g
  • Carbs: 14g
Acid Away Acid Away
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples
  • 3 Large Celery Stalks
  • ¼ head white cabbage
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • ½ cup Parsley
  • ½ inch Ginger

 

  • Serving: 16 oz
  • Calories: 80
  • Fat: 1g
  • Sugar: 15g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Carbs: 25g
 Recharge Your Alkaline Recharge Your Alkaline Batter
  • Handful of Red Cabbage
  • 1 Cucumber
  • Handful of Spinach
  • 1 Lemon
Not Provided
 Body Purifier Body Purifier (Flush toxins)
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 Cucumber
  • ½ Cauliflower
  • ½ Beet
Not Provided
 Simply Green Machine Simply Green Machine
  • 1 cup Spinach
  • 2 cup Kale
  • 2 cup Parsley
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 3 Celery Stalks
Not Provided
 Heaven Sent Heaven Sent
  • 1 cup Spinach
  • ½ Cucumber
  • 2 Stalks of Celery including leaves
  • 3 Carrots
  • ½ Apple
Not Provided
 Healthful Heart Ginger Healthful Heart Ginger
  • 1 Green Apple
  • 1 Pear
  • ½ Papaya
  • 2 Large Celery Stalks
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • 1 cup Parsley
  • 2 inch Ginger
  • 1 small cucumber
  • Serving: 16 oz
  • Calories: 95
  • Fat: 1g
  • Sugar: 16g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Carbs: 29g

Victory: The Plan for Me and You

Like many who live in the DC-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) area, I awake before the break of day to prepare for work. Typically, my television is tuned to the local news channel hoping that the weather forecast will be mild and sunny. But by the time I get into my car to head to work I’ve not only received the weather forecast, I’ve also received numerous messages of despair and dysfunction through the News. It’s discouraging and sometimes makes me afraid for the future. Where is the peace…the love…the unity?

So to overcome this fear and despair before it can convict my spirit, I like to take in large doses of encouragement. When I get into my car I immediately tune to my favorite radio station for praise and worship, Praise 104.1. Without fail, the song by Donnie McClurkin, We are Victorious, not only gets me inspired but it helps me put the day in perspective. After hearing it this morning, I put pen to paper to remind me and you that we are Victors. No matter what surrounds us, we will be victorious.

In my life, there have been three things that have impeded my victory: quitting, fear and not believing. When I searched the bible to find out what God’s word says about these things, I was empowered, strengthened and encouraged to discover that I am NOT a victim….loser….or defeated. Victory is God’s plan for me and you.

Quitting

What is the saying? When the going gets tough the tough gets going. Well, I’ve always interpreted that saying to mean that when things get hard it is okay to abandon ship. God’s word declares the opposite of how I interpreted that saying. Whether it be an illness/sickness or a closed door to a relationship or job (rejection), God’s word says that we are “more than conquerors”, “God will deliver us out of all our afflictions”, and if we will just wait patiently and not quit, “He will renew our strength.” We were not designed to lose this battle.  Victory is God’s plan for you and me.

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all (Psalm 34:19 NIV)

…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31)

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:12-13 NIV)

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (I John 4:4)

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (I Corinthian 10:13)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:35,37 NIV)

Fear

If you watch the television long enough, it is easy to reach a level of despair and fear for the future. But I tell myself that the “mess” this world has gotten itself into…we have gotten ourselves into…is nothing for my God. He can move mountains. He has parted seas, made the blind see and the lame walk. So, no worries! We are victorious! And, His Word confirms it.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4: 6-7).

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV).

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8: 14-17)

If God is for us who could be against us (Romans 8:28)

I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, `Go, throw yourself into the sea,` and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him (Mark 11:23 NIV).

Not Believing in God and His Word

I believe part of my problem stemmed from me not truly believing that God wanted the best for me. Better yet, that I deserved the best from God. But I have learned that I am redeemed through the sacrifice of my Savior Jesus Christ and therefore I am heir to the many promises of God. I am of no help to anyone when I go around defeated. Taking a moment to allow the truth of who I really am in Christ is critical to me believing that I am worthy of God’s goodness…worthy of being an heir. This truth is taking awhile to cement to my being. I have to constantly remind myself that I am redeemed and that if God is for me who can be against me. And, most importantly God has plans to prosper me. I am victorious….we are victorious!

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1)

Eyes have not seen, nor ears heard neither have entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him (I Corinthians 2:9)

We live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV).

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. So let`s do it- full of belief, confident that we`re presentable inside and out. Let`s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word (Hebrews 10: 22-23).

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And, if children, then heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:16-17)

But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently (Romans8: 24-25)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Knowing God’s truth has strengthened my resolve…my desire to live in the fullness of what God has for me. I declare that I accept the depth of God’s love for me and thus I will live for Him. I am victorious…we are victorious!

Juicing vs Blending (Smoothies)

What is Juicing?
Juicing is the extraction of the liquid nutrition from vegetables and fruits through a masticating or centrifugal process. The centrifugal process extracts juice using small blades that spin at high speeds while the fruits and vegetables are push down the chute of the juicer. The juice is separated from the fiber. Some avid juicers report that they use the left over fiber in soups and muffins. Others discard the fiber that is left in the wastebasket of the Juicer. The masticating process is a slower juicing process in which fruits and vegetables are crushed and the juices are squeezed out. Fruits and vegetables are exposed to less heat in the masticating process.

 

What is Blending?
With blending, fruits and vegetables are pureed. Blending uses the whole fruit or vegetable. Nothing is discarded.

Why All the Craze?
Well there are several reasons for this juicing and smoothie rave. I was thoroughly convinced that juicing was the key to better health for me after hearing Joe Cross story. If you haven’t read the book or saw the video, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, please do so when you get the chance. It was all I needed to see. And, now I have my own testimony. Beyond the incredible weight loss that occurs, the improvement in your health is priceless. I have the results of my blood work to prove it. What’s key is that you are disciplined. With just one juice a day I saw an improvement in my health and weight loss.

Which One is Better For You:  Juicing vs Blending?
You receive nutrients from both options. There seems to be a disagreement in the juicing/blending community on which yields the most nutrients. Since blending uses the whole fruit or vegetable, some argue that you receive all of the nutrients but since juicing extracts the fiber you lose some nutrients.

I would recommend that you try both and see which one best fit your lifestyle. I have personal experience with juicing and can attest to the health benefits I experienced. Nevertheless, I like both juicing and blending. Which one I choose depends on the circumstances. For example, if I’m leaving the house and I want to avoid eating fast food while out, I make a smoothie so I will stay full (satiated) for hours.

JUICING PROS

  • In Drew Canole’s book, Juicing Recipes for Vitality and Health, he states: “Ninety-five percent of the nourishment from fruit and vegetable juice is immediately released into the blood stream because there is nothing interfering with the processing once it hits your stomach.”
  • In Drew Canole’s book, Juicing Recipes for Vitality and Health, he also states: “Vegetable juicing is always best when you’re trying to lose weight. The minerals and high-potassium content hydrate your cells and force out the sodium that causes water retention. Regularly drinking vegetable juice helps super-boost your health and remove toxins in your body. “
  •  Juicing makes it easier to get more than your recommended daily intake of fruits and veggies.
  • A 16 – 24 oz glass of juice requires a lot of veggies and/or fruit so you will more than likely get more than your daily allowance of veggies/fruits in one glass of juice.
  • Documented and proven results of improvement in health and weight loss.

JUICING CONS:

  • You lose the fiber when extracting juice so you don’t benefit from the fruits/veggies fiber.
  • Juices are not as filling as smoothies
  • Some centrifugal and masticating juicers can be quite expensive.
  • When juicing fruit you have to be mindful of sugar/glucose levels
  • You have to immediately consume your drink or store it in a sealed glass jar (mason jars) or it will begin to oxidized and may become rancid.

BLENDING (Smoothies) PROS:

  • Smoothies make it easier to get your recommended daily intake of fruits and veggies.
  • Smoothies are filling. I’m usually hungry within 2 hours after my juice. When I first started juicing, I was hungry within an hour.  However, I can go several hours between meals after having my favorite smoothie.
  • I have friends who have replaced 1-2 meals with smoothies and they appear to be losing weight.
  • Reap the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables (Related:  “Best Fruits and Vegetables for Juicing”)

BLENDING (Smoothies) CONS:

  • You may need to have more than one smoothie to get all of your veggies and/or fruit. This could actually be a good thing. I love my strawberry/banana smoothie so two a day would be great!
  • The reportedly best blender, VitaMix, is over $500; however the Nutribullet is $100.

What are Some of the Best Blenders?

  • Vitamix CIA Professional            $500
  • Vitamix TurboBlend                     $375
  • Blendtec Designer Series             $455
  • Blendtec Total Blender                $400
  • Ninja Professional Blender        $100
  • Magic Bullet                                   $58
  • Nutribullet                                     $105
  • Oster 8 Speed Blender with Food Processor      $55
  • Oster 7 Speed Reversing Motor                           $63

I use the Oster 7 Speed Reversing Motor. I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in a blender because I don’t intend to use it frequently. The local Yogurt-Smoothie shop I sometimes frequent uses a Blendtec blender and they appear to be fast and thorough. With the Oster 7 Speed, I have to start and stop blending a couple of times because my fruit clogs the bottom and causes the motor to stop spinning. But, it is not much of an inconvenience for me because I don’t juice often.

What are Some of the Best Juicers?

  • Breville Juice Fountain Elite     $300
  • Breville Compact Juice Fountain   $100
  • Hamilton Beach Big Mouth      $50
  • Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Pro    $60
  • Cuisinart 5 Speed Juicer        $129
  • Omega Nutrition Center    $228

What are some Great Smoothie and Juicing Recipes?
As I mentioned in my Blog Post, Juicing: My Way, I basically stay on the same channel when it comes to juicing. SPOILER ALERT: I will review 10 Recipes next week, so be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss it.

Over the past year, I have accumulated quite a few recipe books. I have listed them below in ‘Recommended Reading.’ From this collection of recipes, I will pick 10 recipes to illustrate next week so Stay Tune! If you want me to review a specific recipe, be sure to let me know in the comments below. I will try to include it as one of the recipes.

My favorite smoothie recipe consist of ½ frozen banana, 4 frozen strawberries, 1 scoop of whey protein, about 4 ounces of Passion Orange Guava Juice, ½ individual container of Greek Yogurt, and ice. This recipe is delicious and very filling.

Recommended Reading/References:

This Thing Called Love

For a long time, I’ve had this love thing all mixed up. It is not until recently that I was brought to the realization that I’m wired all wrong and my way of thinking about love is flawed. And, from that flawed way of thinking I have left a trail of missed opportunities to love. I’m not sure where I veered off course but I’m guessing it was at a very young age. As I think back on my life, I begin to see where my understanding of love didn’t align with God’s definition and I thank the Holy Spirit for imparting this wisdom upon me.

Like many, my humble beginning consisted of two parents who loved me and anxiously waited for my arrival. Once I entered this world, my parents gave of themselves to nurture me. They served (bathe, clothed, fed, and sang) me. So, I guess I had to be a happy baby. To this day, I can remember moments of my life when my dad was alive…at age 3 and 4. Our memory is a fascinating thing. I can’t remember what I did last year on the 4th of July but somehow I can still remember moments when I was 3 and 4 years of age.

Things rapidly changed when my dad died which was about 5 weeks before my 5th birthday. Things weren’t the same. People weren’t the same. We moved from our home to an apartment and everyone was so sad.

Within six (6) months of my dad’s death, something devastating happened to me of which I am not quite ready to discuss openly but I believe it was the precursor to my distorted understanding of love. The first year after my dad’s death was a bit much for this five year old. The things I endured…the things that happened to me…happened in silence. My mom’s heart was heavy from the death of my dad and, at 5, I knew she couldn’t take much more so very little was said.

So as you can imagine, entering elementary school was a little rocky….at a time when social and emotional development begins. From elementary school through college, everything around me indicated that love was about me. Love was about how I wanted someone to make me feel and if they failed at doing so then they didn’t love me. Relationships were about perfection. If you lacked perfection in your relationship with me then I had no choice but to conclude that you didn’t truly love me. This thing called love was all about me!

Well, I had it all wrong. God has taught me through scripture that love is not about me…it is about how I serve others.

This is what God Says About This Thing Called Love:

Serving One Another

  • Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves (Galatians 6:2 NIV).
  • You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love (Galatians 5:13 NIV).
  • Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Mark 10: 42-45 NIV)
  • Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (I Peter 4: 10 NIV)

Esteeming Others Above Yourself

  • Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10 NIV).
  • Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification (Romans 14:19 NIV).

 Forgiveness

  • Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the nameof the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3: 13-17 NIV)
  • Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).

Humility

  • Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed (I Peter 3: 8-14 NIV).
  • Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2: 3-11 NIV).

Coming to the truth has brought me such joy in my relationship with my children, husband, family, friends and colleagues. Instead of me asking “What have you done for me lately?”, I ask what have I done for them lately? I often look for ways I can edify (uplift) others instead of the other way around. I trust God will supply all my needs that includes the love and joy I need to thrive here on earth.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us (I John 4:7-16 NIV).

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (I Corinthians 13: 4-8).

Recommended Reading:

A Love Worth Giving: Living in the Overflow of God’s Love by Max Lucado

Love is…..6 Lessons on What Love Look Like by Jenna Lucado Bishop

Bold as Love: What Can Happen When We See People the Way God Does by Bob Roberts Jr.

Best Fruits and Vegetables for Juicing

 

My Juicing Experience:

I began my juicing journey in April/May 2013.  After feeling a lot older than my age, I began researching ways to feel better.  I thought my eating habits were okay.  For decades and decades, my primary source of meat was fish, turkey and chicken.  While my family does eat beef, we typically do so only about 5-6 times throughout the year.  I really don’t like the taste of pork so I don’t eat it.  I’ll admit that I wasn’t “big” on the veggies but I did incorporate several servings throughout the week (mainly broccoli, spinach and corn).

It wasn’t until I saw Joe Cross movie that I understood what the problem may be.  I never any considered the effect of processed food on my health.  All the sides I made to accompany my family’s meals were processed.  So I joined the “juicing revolution.”

Related:  Juicing vs Blending (Smoothies)

In my blog, Juicing: My Way, I outlined my slow and steady approach to juicing.  When I first started I was buying standard fruits and vegetables but then quickly changed to organic after reading about the pesticides used on standard fruits and vegetables.  It was an expensive decision.  Organic versus standards more than doubled my grocery bill.  Through my experience I learned that I didn’t have to buy all organic.  Instead, fruits and vegetables with a thick outer layer like oranges and pineapples I bought standard but vegetables and fruits like apples and cucumbers I bought organic.

This “juicing revolution” brought my attention to quite a few things.  First, I needed to be mindful of what fruits, vegetables and herbs I was juicing if I was taking medication.  This was not an issue with me but when recommending juicing to family and friends I asked that they checked with their pharmacist to be sure that the vegetables and fruits they use in their juice wouldn’t cause a negative drug interaction.

I no longer have to be convinced if juicing is good for me.  I can say with a resounding “YES!” that it is positively good for me.  Not only did I lose weight, I lowered my cholesterol and blood pressure.  My fingernails stay long, strong and healthy and my hair grew at a very good pace.  AND, when I had to stop juicing for a few months while we sold our home (the realtor made us put away everything on the countertop), I did not gain all the weight back.  Quite honestly, that was the most impressive to me.  I have tried many diets and eating plan which resulted in me gaining all of my weight back and then some when I stopped the eating plan/diet.  This didn’t happen this time and my eating habits got really bad because we found ourselves eating out a lot because potential buyers wanted to see the home around meal time.

Another thing worth noting, is the improvement of my eyesight.  While I can’t get any one in the medical field to confirm that it is possible to have improved eyesight.  It is true in my case.  I wear eyeglasses and the prescription was too strong for me after 2 months of including carrots in my juices.

Best Fruits and Vegetables for Juicing

In my experience, the best fruits and vegetables for juicing were kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, cucumber, apple, oranges, and pineapples.  There are a lot of nutrients in these fruits and cruciferous (kale, spinach, collard) vegetables and I attribute my results to having plenty of these vegetables in my juicing plan.  In his book, Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Revised Edition, Dr. Fuhrman states:

Cruciferous vegetables have the most powerful anti-cancer effects of all foods.  Most of the phytonutrients function as antioxidants in your body, meaning they neutralize free radicals, rendering them harmless and reducing cancer risk. 

The phytonutrients in cruciferous vegetables also activate your body’s own antioxidant control system.  These unique compounds cycle through the body for three to five days after consumption, offering protection and fueling numerous bodily systems, enabling them to function more effectively.

Stanford Medical Cancer Institute Reports that “Research is discovering that intake of fruits, vegetables, and cereal grains may interfere with the process of developing cancer of the oral cavity, larynx, esophagus, stomach, colon, lung, prostate, and rectum. In addition to reducing the risk of developing cancer, the risk of developing heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases might also be prevented by eating more fruits and vegetables.”

Some of the Health Benefits of the Fruits and Vegetables I Juiced

Fruits & Vegetables

Nutrients

Health Benefit

Broccoli
  • Antioxidants
  • Phytonutrients(Glucosinolates)
  • Vitamin K
  • Flavonoids (kaempferol)
  • Lower risk of cancer
  • Helps detoxify body
  • Boost immune system
  • Helps lower   cholesterol
Celery
  • At least 12 Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids (kaempferol)
  • Protect  digestive tract and blood vessel inflammation
  • Improve integrity of stomach lining
  • Decrease risk of stomach ulcer
  • Helps lower blood pressure
Collard   Greens
  • Carotenoids (Beta Carotene, Lutein, Zeaxanthin)
  • Phytonutrients   (Glucosinolates)
  • Highest   amount of Antioxidants
  • Vitamin   A
  • Vitamin   K
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acid (ALA)
  • Folate
  • Lower risk of cancer
  • Protects skin and eyesight
  • Helps detoxify body
  • Boost immune system
  • Helps lower cholesterol
  • Helps lower blood pressure
Cucumber
  • Lignans
  • Antioxidants
  • Cucurbitacins
  • Flavonoids
  • Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduce risk of cancer (breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate)
Kale   (superfood)
  • Carotenoids (Beta Carotene, Lutein, Zeaxanthin)
  • Phytonutrients (Glucosinolates
  • Highest amount of Antioxidants
  • 45   different Flavonoids
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin K
  • Magnesium
  • Strengthens bones
  • Lower risk of cancer (bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate)
  • Protects skin and eyesight
  • Helps detoxify body
  • Boost immune system
  • Helps lower cholesterol
  • Helps lower blood pressure
Romaine   Lettuce
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Folate
  • Molybdenum
  • Biotin
  • Folic Acid
  • Calcium
  • Protein
  • Helps lower blood pressure
  • Helps lower cholesterol
Spinach
  • Glycoclycerolipids
  • More than 12 different Flavonoid
  • Carotenoids
  • Lower risk of cancer
  • Helps detoxify body
  • Boost immune system
  • Helps lower cholesterol
  • Helps lower blood pressure
  • Help protect lining of digestive tract
  • Protection against aggressive prostate cancer
  • Help slow down cell division in stomach cancer cells
  • Reduce skin cancers
Turnips
  • Antioxidants
  • Phytonutrients (Glucosinolates)
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids (ALA)
  • Folate
  • Lower risk of cancer
  • Helps detoxify body
  • Lower risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Anti-inflammatory benefit
  • Helps lower cholesterol
Ginger
  • Gingerols
  • Alleviates symptoms of gastrointestinal distress
  • Prevent symptoms of motion sickness
  • Reduce nausea and vomiting
  • Reduce rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis   pain
  • Inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells
  • Induces cell death in ovarian cancer cells
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce menstrual pain
Lemon/Limes
  • Flavonoids
  • Vitamin C
  • Limonoids
  • Stop cell division in many cancer cell lines
  • Antibiotic effects
  • Help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon.
Carrots
  • Caretenoids (Beta Carotene, Lutein)
  • Phytonutrient(Polyacetylenes)
  • Antioxidants
  • Inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells
  • Most protective against cardiovascular disease
  • Eye health
Apples
  • Flavonoids
  • Polyphenols
  • Help prevent spike in blood sugar
  • Lower risk of Asthma
  • Lower risk of lung cancer
Orange
  • More   than 60 Flavonoids
  • Vitamin   C
  • Lower high blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Protection against cardiovascular disease
  • Anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and blood clotting inhibiting properties
Pineapples
  • Bromelain
  • Antioxidant
  • Manganese
  • Improved digestion
  • Protection against Macular Degeneration
  • Anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties

References/Resources:

http://cancer.stanford.edu/information/nutritionAndCancer/reduceRisk/phyto.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=38

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/the-truth-about-kale

http://www.kingoffruit.com.au/pineapple-health-benefits.html

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/aricles/265990.php

Joel Fuhrman, MD Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Revised Edition, (p.  120)

Praying the Psalm When Words Escape You

bible series psalmsMy desire is to be a vessel for God to use to glorify His name but I know that means “creating a clean heart in me (Psalm 51:10).”  And, truth be told, I see that as a miracle in and of itself.  Oh! A wretch like me!  With all the “muck and gunk” I have built in my heart and mind over the years, I dare not think on how large a task, in my strength, it would be to clean this heart.  I simply trust God because I know He can and will do it.

I present myself to Him as humble and honest as I know how wanting to bear the depths of all that is within me so sometimes words expressing the weight of my heart escape me. It is at those times, I look to the Book of Psalms to present all that I am to God…all of my imperfections, pains, anxieties and disappointments.

Once I find a Psalm that speaks to my countenance, I meditate on it and then pray it. Here are four of the many that I found spoke to me:

  • The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.   Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalms 23 NIV).

 

  • Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.  Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.  Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.  Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.  Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.  Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.  Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.  Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.  You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.  My sacrifice, O God, isa broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalm 51:1-17 NIV).

 

  • Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.  Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.  Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.  Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.  Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared.  Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good.  How I long for your precepts!  In your righteousness preserve my life (Psalms 119: 33-40 NIV).

 

  • I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name forever and ever.  Every day I will praise you and extol your name forever and ever.  Great are You and most worthy of praise; Your greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.  They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works.  They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.  You are gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.  You are good to all; You have compassion on all that you have made.   All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.  Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.  You are trustworthy in all your promises and faithful in all you do.  You uphold all who fall and lift up all who are bowed down.  The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.  You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.  You are righteous in all your ways and faithful in all you do.  You are near to all who call on you, to all who call on you in truth.  You fulfill the desires of those who fear you; you hear their cry and save them.  You watch over all who love you, but all the wicked you will destroy.  My mouth will speak in praise of You.  Let every creature praise your holy name forever and ever (Psalm 145 NIV).

Are HBCU’s Necessary?

Debate-2My boyfriend and I were having a battle royale, verbal debate to end all, epic discussion about the role and necessity of HBCUs or Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Before I proceed with the outcome and better yet substance of this Great Debate, I will give a bit of background information about each of us to give some context.

Background

First and Foremost, I am a proud Howard University Class of 2013 Alumna. I consider myself someone from humble beginnings. I was raised primarily by my mother in a lower middle class income family. I moved a lot across Illinois and eventually to the east coast in Virginia while my mother sought out opportunities. I was exposed to a myriad of cultures along the way due to the different populations of people I lived amongst. I was very much raised to love myself and the people around me, so I did.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I am an African American female. My background and life experiences collectively are the reason why I made a conscious decision to attend an HBCU.

Now, my boyfriend, Elias, seems to be polar opposite of me on paper. Elias grew up in a middle class two-parent home in one house, in one neighborhood his entire life up until college age. He currently attends Temple University, a PWI or predominately white institution. He is a white American male.

We have many things in common though. One of them is this: we’re both idealists, sometimes in disguise of “realists”.

The Debate

This debate started when I probed him on his views on economic separatism (Blacks buying from Black owned businesses exclusively). He responded that essentially he is in support of groups and communities supporting their own, BUT not exclusively. Meaning, “Buy black, but don’t shut off your business to others.” While expressing his viewpoints, he said, “I don’t think that anything should be catered exclusively to one group of people.”

Me being me, I pressed him further. I said, “Well Howard centers the education that the students receive on the people that attend the school, which is predominately black. So, evidently every course has a theme of what people of the African diaspora have contributed to the advancement of society.” I was prepared for a rebuttal and more than ready for a debate. I dared him to say that there shouldn’t be any HBCUs and HE DID!

At this point, I listed every reason why that statement is refutable.  Based on my experience at one of the most prestigious HBCUs, I highlighted reasons why I wholeheartedly believe that an HBCU experience is like no other. Allow me to preface this list by saying that in no way am I saying that a young Black student cannot find these values in a PWI. I’m just saying that a lot of these points are presented by statistical data, while some of it is just personal experience.

  1. HBCUs instill self-love, pride and the need to be a social justice activist in its students.  Howard’s motto, “Truth & Service
  2. HBCUs have the highest rate of Blacks graduating from college, not just attending.
  3. HBCUs encourage unity and support.
  4. HBCUs foster an environment where young Black students can get to know themselves.
  5. HBCUs provide the tools for students to be active in their communities to encourage growth and change.
  6. HBCUs produce world leaders.  This year Howard University was listed as one of the top Peace Corps Volunteer producing Universities and the top HBCU PCV producer! http://www.howard.edu/newsroom/releases/2014/20140211HowardRanksonPeaceCorpsTopCollegeList.html
  7. HBCUs are diverse. Yes, diverse! Therefore, it doesn’t “cater to one group”. There are people from all over the world, from every socio-economic class, and many cultural varieties.

If I wasn’t startled enough by his comment, his rebuttal to my list of reasons completely took me aback. His response, “I agree. I think that you think I’m saying that HBCUs are unnecessary and I’m not.”

He said, “Let me rephrase my statement. I don’t think that they (HBCUs) should HAVE to be necessary. I don’t think that we should have to have economic separatism. We are limiting ourselves by these devices. Ideally, we could support each other equally and education wouldn’t favor one group over another.” All of that talking that I did resulted in us coming to the same conclusion!

So, this battle royale, verbal debate, epic discussion ended in an essential agreement. Until we reach an idealistic solution to our very real social inequalities, HBCUs will be necessary and required.

Please, leave any comments, questions or new ideas below! I would love to hear from you!