Category Archives: Quotes To Live By

In Pursuit of What HE Says

It’s 2019 and almost half of the year has passed us by! Last year was tough for me in a few different ways: a few family members passed away, I took on a partial caretaker role for a handful of people, some health issues flared up, and fear popped its ugly head into my business. Regardless of all that I fought through — I made it through! I’m grateful that I’m no longer struggling to adapt to those changes and even in that, I’m evolving more and more into the person God always meant for me to be.

This brings me to the topic of today’s post. Since last year, I’ve been grooving to Hillsong United’s “So Will I (100 Billion X) but I’d groove to it and mainly focused my energies on the chorus (because if you know Hillsong, their songs are WORDYYYY.) It wasn’t until January of this year when Cross Worship’s version of it popped into my feed that I REALLY took notice of the words!

The lead singer Osby Berry literally sent me into another stratosphere when he began ministering that song! Apparently, it was at some church conference they were having; and I don’t know if it was because I was having a tough day at work or if it was solely his powerful treatment of the musicality but I was left in AWE! Each syllable he sang brought new life into the song like never before (no offense to Hillsong United) and one stanza, in particular, stuck to my heart like glue.

And as You speak
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You say
Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace
If creation still obeys You so will I
So will I
So will I

WOW! WOW! WOW!

I have sat in this stanza ever since I heard it and every time I think about it, it causes me to really ponder on what I’M doing as it relates to God’s purpose for me! The lines that hit me in my soul EVERY TIME are “…evolving in pursuit of what You said…”. This line speaks specifically to “creationists” vs. “evolutionists”. Since I believe the words of the bible and the truth that we are ALL God’s creation I consider myself a creationist; however, I also believe that we are (flora & fauna included) constantly evolving BUT only by God’s design. No big bang theory. No random, pointless combustion of life. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof (plants and animals) and they (meaning us ya’ll) that dwell therein. This song highlights the TRUTH that God created EVERYTHING for a purpose and that in His magnificent sovereignty, has equipped everything to morph and adapt as He wills it. If animals who ‘wander aimlessly’ can naturally change, shift and evolve as God ordains without question, why is it so hard for us as humans to willingly adapt to the nature of God’s will?

“If creation still obeys You so will I.”

In my own professional life and personal life, I have allowed toxic environments, vampires, self-reliance and fear to take precedence over God’s natural and simplest command. To go where He sends me. To go with His perfect flow. For that, I repent daily! If the animals and plants can go where He sends them and GROW where He assigns them, so can I. This song (and the anointed voice of Osby Berry) has pulled me into a place of deep reflection and I can quickly tell that this will be the theme of 2019. My YEAR OF REFLECTION.

A time to consider what got me to this point. Make the necessary changes to live fearlessly and limitlessly (as Judge Lauren Lake always says) and to thrive walking out the purpose that Jesus Christ died for me to have! It is God’s will that we ALL live a joyful life and an abundant life jam-packed with blessings and worship all in the Lord’s name. Everything exists to glorify Him so He equips us to innately to walk in His precepts, growing from faith to faith and soaring from glory to glory.

God of salvation
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride
On a hill You created
The light of the world
Abandoned in darkness to die
And as You speak
A hundred billion failures disappear
Where You lost Your life so I could find it here
If You left the grave behind You so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve done
Every part designed in a work of art called love
If You gladly chose surrender so will I
I can see Your heart
Eight billion different ways
Every precious one
A child You died to save
If You gave Your life to love them so will I.

So will I.

 

— Stay blessed good people, Joc 

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Chad Loves Michelle: Depression, Anxiety & Love

This morning while getting ready for work, I watched Good Morning America and was able to catch the end of Michelle Williams’ and fiance Chad Johnson’s interview with Robin Roberts.
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In the little part that I saw, Michelle spoke on battling depression and revealed that around the time she and Chad were getting deep into their relationship, she checked herself into a hospital for treatment. When Chad came to visit her, she told him “I understand if you leave. I can go to bed at night knowing [it was because] you were praying for a wife, but not a depressed wife.” She had already mentally prepared herself to battle her depression without him but he stayed.
That stuck with me.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that 2 1/2 years ago I was attacked with burnout/anxiety and started having issues traveling distances that I normally wouldn’t think twice about. You will also know that it was TOTALLY out of the blue! AND that means you know that at that time my burnout occurred, I had literally JUST started dating my now ex-boyfriend. It couldn’t have come at a worse time.
So here I was trying to balance a new (somewhat long distance) relationship, ever mounting responsibilities at work, family issues, a photography business, and on top of all of that — anxiety. Prior to that, I had never really dealt with it before aside from stress and it caught me off guard. I was just used to that stress where you can drink a Ginger Ale, take a nap, and wake up fine! What honestly frustrated me about this whole fear thing was the fact that I couldn’t seem to shake it overnight.
FACT….most everything I’d been confronted with in my life (up to then) was always something I could snap out of or shake off. Not this time.
Going from fearlessly traveling ANYWHERE in the world to freaking out by simply sitting in a car is DRAINING, CONFUSING, EMBARRASSING…. you add a new boyfriend in the mix. DISASTER. One of the reasons my ex started dating me in the first place was for my sense of adventure. Huge problem Houston.
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While my ex and I had some really good moments, I truly believe (now and even back then) that anxiety was primarily responsible for our breakup. Sure we had a ton of other differences and probably would have broken up anyway (lol) BUT may have stayed a little longer if anxiety and panic attacks didn’t tag along as the third wheel.
When we broke up I couldn’t blame my ex for not wanting to deal with a woman battling anxiety but deep down I was hoping he would or could somehow help see me through it. It changed who I was. I clung to my family a little tighter, I was a little less adventurous, every trip to visit him wiped out every bit of spunk I had. It was mindblowing for ME to deal with and I was PERSONALLY frustrated BEYOND end. I felt weak, I felt punkish, I felt crazy; basically, all of the above. I didn’t want to be a girlfriend or wife fighting anxiety — I’d never experienced it before in life and was mad at myself for not being able to just ‘snap out’ of it; after all, that was how I usually rolled.
Watching that GMA interview this morning and seeing how Chad truly loves Michelle gave me hope.
“The relationship just seemed to be slipping out of my hands,” Chad said in the interview. “I could see [her] spiraling, but I had no idea that it was depression.”
Seeing how Chad and men like LaGuardia Cross have made the choice to help their women conquer their mental struggles gives me hope that there are people who can handle it.
Let me say this, I have NO intention of allowing anxiety to stress me like it once did forever. I plan to live FREE from this! Since the winter of 2016 – spring of 2017, I began seeking out mental and spiritual help, beginning with a therapist. While I am better than what I was 2 years ago I’m not at 100%. However, what I have learned through this experience so far is that some obstacles don’t fall away overnight. Some do. Some people wake up the next day and the fear is gone. Some have to work to achieve that. It’s a matter of focusing on God in the midst of everyday stresses and taking things day by day. Not worrying about the future but focusing on the victory in today. I am not alone and there are others who sympathize AND empathize with my journey.
I AM MAKING THIS CLEAR RIGHT NOW — I am not trashing (nor trying to trash) my ex because he didn’t have the capacity to deal with my monster at that time; I couldn’t honestly say that I wouldn’t have felt the same way THEN if I were him either! I learned a lot of valuable lessons and gained new insight during the time we dated. I AM, however, expressing the thankfulness I have for supportive friends and family because I now know that everyone doesn’t have the patience/will to interact with someone battling with PTSD or anxiety.
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I know God did not give me a spirit of fear but has given me His Spirit of love, power, and a sound mind…some days it’s just a little tougher to grasp that truth.

I have thoroughly been encouraged today. Michelle and Chad reminded me that all I can do is take each life one step at a time and that I shouldn’t allow myself to fall victim to discouragement whenever I have a bad day. Their words reminded me that this too shall pass. They reminded me that I should be thankful for the blessings of those in my tribe while graciously accepting the exit of those who choose not to be part of it. All in all, I’m good! I am graced for this.
Peace and blessings,
Joc

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The Lesson I Learned From A Butterfly

A butterfly is a multifaceted creature. The way it’s born, the way it blossoms into adulthood, and the way it floats on into its last phase of life is all one transient mystery. Dozens of people I know adopt butterflies as a symbol a loved one’s spiritual presence. “OH did you see that butterfly just then?! They must be watching us!” The butterfly is swift yet peaceful all at once.
oThis past Saturday I walked into a hospice facility with my grandmother. My parents and I took her to the coast to visit her best friend in LIFE who was nearing death. Upon entering the main hall, we were greeted by butterflies. Not just one either! The entire wing was flooded with butterfly accents. I immediately took notice but was too caught up in my own selfishness to recognize what these butterflies were trying to teach me. You see, due to some personal conflicts, I haven’t been able to get down to the beach area in YEARS and had already decided that I was going to make my way down to the shore after this ‘quick’ little visit with Grandma. While I was spiritually praying for my grandmother’s strength and her best friends’ family, I was also anxiously checking the clock, becoming more disappointed as the seconds slipped into the next hour.
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As my mother and I sat comforting my grandmother, my dad quickly whisked out of the room and into the main hallway. Saturday was also the birthday of his late baby brother who died in January of this year. As I peered out the doorway, contemplating if I should run out and hug my dad or give him some space, I noticed a gigantic wire butterfly hanging on the wall above him. It was then that I began listening to what the butterfly was trying to teach me all along. It was then that I completely threw out my beach plans and began to totally focus on supporting the one person that needed my support the most — my grandmother. My selfish ambitions of taking a dip in the sea melted away and the power of love filled up every space of my consciousness.
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Fast forward to yesterday morning. My mom preached at her childhood church for their homecoming celebration and even though we had grandma’s best friend in our hearts, we were happy and able to enjoy ourselves. Things were blissful up until the announcement was made at the end of service that my grandma’s friend had died just minutes prior. My grandmother WEPT. She just wept.
As service ended, and as everyone got up, laughing and chatting (as church folk normally do) I sat there beside my grandmother and consoled her. She let the full weight of herself rest on my shoulder. As people were trying to have small talk, TOTALLY OBLIVIOUS to her pain, the lesson of the butterfly came back to mind.
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The butterfly with its complexities is one of the most beautiful creatures you will ever see. It doesn’t make much noise, but with the flutter of its wings — its presence is still felt. While its lifespan isn’t terribly long, it gracefully transitions wherever God takes it. Like the butterfly, my grandmother’s friend went quietly to the place where God was taking her and left a lasting impact by way of the precious moments my grandma was able to spend with her prior to her death. If we wouldn’t have been in town THIS weekend and if we would have gone to the beach and said “we’ll just see Mrs.Eloise tomorrow”, my grandmother wouldn’t have had time with her real-life butterfly before she transitioned.
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Lesson completed. What was the lesson: that like the butterfly, humans are transitory creatures wonderfully made by God yet awfully complexed.  We swiftly transition from birth to adolescence to adulthood and the afterlife almost as mysteriously as we came to be. Compared to eternity, our lives aren’t long at all so each peaceful moment of love should be cherished. Sure there is nothing wrong with wanting to do things for ourselves at times, but when compared to basking in creating memories of love — there is no comparison.
God has humbled me once again and left me in awe of His sovereignty and majesty. This weekend was not ‘luck’. These were not some random series of events selected by the ‘universe’. El Elyon, The Most High God divinely orchestrated each detail of our trip down to the date we chose to visit because He KNEW my grandmother needed that last day with her best buddy; and THROUGH this weekend, He has allowed me to grow once more by teaching me a lesson in love with a simple butterfly.
Be blessed and love more ya”ll,
– Joc

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How I Knocked Out Fibroids in 3 Days by Changing What I Ate!

Before you read any further, let me stop you there.

When you first read the title of this post, many of you had no clue what fibroids are, let alone that I had them. Yep, surprise (sarcastic ‘woo-hoo’). The dictionary defines a fibroid as “a benign tumor of muscular and fibrous tissues, typically developing in the wall of the uterus.” I define it as “the come-to-Jesus experience that makes you realize you need God to help you make it from day to day”.

My experience with and eventual diagnosis of fibroids has been a long one and VERY trying one. Ever since “I became a woman” back in middle school, I have always experienced excruciating cramps; they run on my mom’s side of the family. It used to get so bad sometimes that I would have to fake a bathroom break or check out of school just so I can ball up in a corner, hold my aching stomach and cry. BUT I always told myself I was a warrior so I would just take the occasional pain reliever and deal with it. When I turned 28 alladat jump up about six decibels! The pain became almost unbearable at times — but again, being the warrior that I was, I chopped it up to getting older and moved on.

Then, shortly after I began dating my ex boyfriend I began noticing a different symptom. EXTREME fatigue. I thought it was because I was overworking my body juggling a full time job, my photography business, and a new budding dating life so I shrugged it off. Then about 6 months later yet ANOTHER symptom reared its ugly head — nausea. All my life I have NEVER had issues with feeling sick on my stomach unless I was dehydrated, had a bad cold virus, or ate something bad. But ohhhhh buddy, now it was making more surprise visits than a probation officer on Friday! Whenever it was “that time of the month” I began spending less time in the office and more time cleaning up the bathroom. Any stench, any whiff of the slightest polarizing smell would send my poor stomach churning and feet a’running! After my breakup with my ex, I figured life would be better since I would have more time to devote to getting my health back on track; so I fully expected my energy to return and my work-life balance to perk up. 

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My body determined THAT was a lie.

After countless comments on how I was “too young” to be THIS tired, I decided to ask my doctor about it and he said I was surprisingly borderline anemic. 

COME AGAIN MISSURE DOCTOR?! He suggested I begin taking iron supplements and overnight my energy returned. Problem solved right? Not quite. After about 5 – 6 months, my fatigue returned and my “lady week” symptoms intensified to the point where I was missing work. The pain and nausea was SO bad that I could barely stand or walk at times. Somebody say “BUT GOD”!

Long story short, I finally mentioned it to my gynecologist and after a few tests, it was determined I had tiny (but pesky) fibroids that were wreaking havoc on my life. That was about 4 months ago and after MUCH trial and error, I have FINALLY found a system that has not only decreased my pain, but has virtually wiped out the nausea; and I believe I am finally showing those fibroids who’s boss! giphy (50)

I began by researching ways to get rid of fibroid/menstrual symptoms. [If you know me personally, you know home girl here is going to do what she needs to do to find out how to get an answer!] Since I am currently transitioning into a Mediterranean Lifestyle, I wanted the most natural approach possible and there it was, God’s plan [cue Drake] — FOOD! It was like I hit the Jackpot at Harrah’s on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. God knew we’d have certain ailments and gave each earthen thing a purpose. I tried various methods for almost 2 months and this past week has proven to be the golden week!

HERE’S HOW IT’S GOING SO FAR……

DAY 1 – In my personal experience, the first day of my cycle typically proves to be one of the most challenging days pain-wise so I began this diet change by starting my day with a small pack (7) of saltine crackers and some Canada Dry ginger ale (it’s the only brand that uses real ginger). For lunch, outside smells lingering in my office had me a little nervous so I decided to eat another small pack (7) of saltines with a large tumbler glass of cold water. For dinner, we had family dinner at an aunt’s house who THANKFULLY prepared baked fish (seasoned only with salt, pepper, and crushed garlic) and made a simple salad (lettuce, tomato, onion). I drank the rest of my Canada Dry along with a small bottle of green tea w/mint.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Ginger, peppermint and cold water are KEY weapons when fighting nausea. So to all my black folk who grew up like me, being told to drink ginger ale to cure whatever ailed you, our moms were on to something back then! Also meats like pork or fried foods are a NO NO because they make menstrual cramps 10xs worse (personal experience). 20180420_184525.jpg

DAY 2 – I woke feeling a faint inkling of pain (on a scale of 1-10 it was a 0.5) so I decided chow down on a small bowl of pineapple for breakfast. I had a chance to stop by the grocery store after work the day before, so for lunch I feasted on the spoils of a homemade spinach-arugula salad. All I did was wash some of the greens and make my own dressing out of lemon juice, olive oil, kosher salt, and coarse black pepper. I topped my salad with some shreds of Parmesan cheese. Oh, I had green tea w/mint to drink. For dinner I had to think fast and picked out a couple of pieces of wild caught salmon. Since I had to meet a client-friend at her house for a project, I needed something fast, but still in line with keeping my annoying symptoms away. Within 30 minutes dinner was ready: foil broiled garlic herb salmon with fresh cooked pole beans (cooked in stock and seasoned with herbs). I drank green tea w/mint as well as water but still craved something sweet! (sidebar, ladies ain’t it crazy how the very thing that will cause us the most pain, we want?!). Since refined and processed sugars exacerbate fibroid/menstrual pain, I treated myself to 2 mini squares of Ghirardelli 82% Midnight Reverie Dark Chocolate. 20180419_182149.jpg

IMPORTANT NOTE: Again, I piled on the green, cruciferous vegetables like spinach and arugula because they help replenish important vitamins that help diminish period woes and replace some of the iron that you often lose due to the fibroids. Again, processed, meats that are high in bad fat can cause inflammation which makesm fibroids WORSE, so I decided to stay with a lean meat like salmon which has healthy Omega-3 fats. Now I know you’re wondering about the chocolate. Dark chocolate over 70% has little to no sugar at all which ACTUALLY makes it healthy for you — in moderation of course. It contains magnesium which works wonders when you’re looking to drive away those debilitating cramps!

DAY 3 – By this point, I’ve prayed daily for God to do His work (specifically in this matter) and He has continued to do just that! Since the pineapple almost tenderized the roof of my mouth to a pulp earlier in the week (look up bromelain) I decided to nurse it with about 4 saltine crackers and some green tea w/mint. For lunch I warmed up some leftover salmon and pole beans from the night before. The apocalyptic spring weather has had my nose a little haywire, so for dinner I opted to pick up some pozole from my favorite Mexican restaurant and fix a spinach-arugula salad w/ homemade lemon dressing. I was still hungry so I took a small trunk of broccoli and ate the florets to top me off! I washed it down with some cold water. For dessert I ate 2 mini squares of Ghirardelli 72% Intense Twilight Dark Chocolate. 20180420_183017

For those who don’t know, my second love language is Spanish! I love many things from Spanish culture (se amo la cultura espanola!) and food is a MAJOR part of it. Pozole is a soup made numerous ways, but the version I ate was made of chile guajillo broth, radishes, cabbage, hominy, and shredded chicken that was prepared on the stove-top grill. This was a light, healthy way to tame those worrisome fibroids and that hateful pain and nausea. Radishes combined with the arugula help to tame the estrogen feeding the fire inside my uterus. 20180420_184303.jpg

At this point in my journey, I am convinced (and equally shocked) that we can heal ourselves of so much by just changing our habits and what we put in our body.  I gathered most of my research from Livestrong.com, Dr. Oz, and a few other sources which you can easily Google. Three days into ‘lady week’ last month, I was home from work sprawled out on my floor crying, desperately trying to grab on to that Holy Hem of Jesus’ garment to heal me. But this month, I know I feel like a new woman! I KNOW God to be a healer and have EXPERIENCED first hand His miracles; I am thankful that He thought enough of us to give us just what we need naturally. I plan to continue this “fibroid diet” and want to know if any of you other ladies out there have found comfort in switching up your diet when it’s your time of the month. I plan to hit the gym and walk for at least 15 – 20 minutes tomorrow to stay active and if you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, I ask that you keep me in your prayers as I journey towards healing from the thorns that are fibroids.

For more information on fibroids, symptoms, and what foods to eat/not eat, check here!

Bless up ya’ll and don’t forget to let me hear from you!

-Joc

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SEX: The fight your flesh does not want to win (Commentary)

So this morning while eating breakfast I came across a blog post on a friend’s social media page titled: SEX: The fight your flesh does not want to win. I immediately knew that this was something I wanted to read.

I’m so glad I did.

If you’ve followed my blog for awhile, you’ll learn a few things about my story; one being I am a woman practicing celibacy after sex. Though it’s gotten somewhat easier over time, it’s still a struggle to stay sexually pure … ESPECIALLY since everything and [seemingly] everyone around us advocates for the antithesis. Yet, being a Christian doesn’t require you to be “in the crowd” or always agree with popular opinion. CELIBATE

This brings me to the blog.

Now that I’m on the other side of sex, I can say with a sober mind that it’s harder to stop than it is to abstain. Once you know the experience, it’s tougher to stop than it is to hold on to the V-Card (while that’s a challenge in its own right.) It’s not impossible though. Lyss (the author) does a fantastic job laying it out in her blog post. It’s a daily journey and it takes work and care — even if it seems extreme, do what you have to do for YOU! I’m still single so I’m not going to say at the end of the journey God will bless you with the best husband ever or a satisfying sex life after marriage, but I DO know, it will bring you closer to God and help you date with a CLEAR mind and CLEAR heart. Enough of my chitter chatter, take a look at the post below:

 

-Be blessed, Joc

Your stomach balls up, clenched by shame and regret.

You never thought you would get to this point… Your mind races back to the first moments as you scramble to figure out why and how this could have happened.

This person wasn’t you… It’s not who you are supposed to be and it certainly was never who you sought out to be.

 

You’re panicked.

 

You remain silent.

 

The pattern repeats.

 

You are convinced that he is the one… We will get married.

You find yourself reasoning. You justify the cost.

You cry.  Silent tears that only you see. Silent tears that want to scream.

 

“HOW?”

How do I escape this? How can I stop?

You think back to the first time you crossed the line…

Every time was easier after that.

You’re ashamed. You’re stuck.

 

You’re not alone…

 

This is the story of many young women.

 

What I am about to say is for the girls who are struggling, lost, and filled with guilt. It’s also for the girl who has never had her first kiss.Because the truth is, no matter who you are, where you come from, or what you believe— purity is one of the hardest things you will commit to do.

 

First, friends, please understand this: No matter your physical past, you are NOT stuck. If you want forgiveness, it’s yours. Jesus gives it freely and He has His arms wide open to envelope you in love. Please do not live in the prison of shame.

Colossians 1:14 (MSG) says, “God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.”

 

Wherever you are, know that my heart is to see you have the most beautiful relationship that glorifies Jesus, and because of this I am willing to challenge you to get there.

Before you even enter a relationship I want you to come face-to-face with the reality of three things:

 

  1. (If you are alive in this world) you WILL be tempted with sexual sin.
  2. EVERYTHING, good and bad, in a relationship starts small.
  3. Without a plan, you will not succeed.

 

The battle of purity is the fight your flesh does not want to win.

How can we realistically save ourselves for marriage when we know the world tells us “it’s okay”?

How can we actively fight our flesh? And maybe even more important, how can we stop when we have found ourselves crossing lines we never intended to cross?

No one is immune to falling into sexual sin. I sure wasn’t. It was a battle to stay pure at every new season in my relationship with Austyn. We had to be intentional and prepared and even though it was hard, I can tell you today – it’s so worth it.

In just a few days we will be getting married… Waiting was hard— there is no doubt about that. But what God has for us in marriage is beautiful.

Here are six things that helped us win the battle for purity, and I know it will help you too.

1. PUT JESUS FIRST IN YOUR LIFE. 

You always hear people say “Keep Jesus at the center of your relationship.”

But what does that actually look like?

Putting Jesus at the center of your relationship will not happen unless you both are putting Him first, daily, in your own personal lives.

When you pursue a relationship with Jesus and put Him first, you are laying down your own flesh and selfish desires before you ever run into temptation. Check your heart.

How can you fight if you are spiritually running on empty?

 

2. KNOW YOUR “WHY”.

Why do you believe in not having sex before marriage? Do you actually know?

Genuinely ask yourself this question! It’s okay to realize that you may not have a good answer. You have identified a weak spot beforehand, now you can go find answers!

The Bible tells us very clearly why we should not have sex before marriage, but you need to seek those answers in the Word on your own so they can be real to you.

 

3. YOU ARE NOT THE EXCEPTION, YOU ARE THE RULE. 

We cannot allow room for ANY evil, or even the appearance of evil. No matter what. Even if you know 100% that “We would never do that.”

This lie we tell ourselves is the perfect opportunity for the devil to come in.

Is it worth it? Nope.

Here is the truth: You are not superwoman with your ability to battle temptations, and you can’t treat yourself as such.

For instance, when Austyn and I began dating we made a rule that being alone in a house together was not an option. This was decided before we even kissed, so why should it matter? If we hadn’t even kissed we certainly would not be tempted to have sex.

Fast forward a year later – if we had not set that boundary early on, we could easily have fallen into temptation… Because I am not superwoman. I am a young woman who is capable of falling into temptation like anyone else.

Always treat yourself as the rule, never the exception, and you will be helping your future self.

4. SET UNWAVERING BOUNDARIES. 

A common thing I tell girls, who have found themselves crossing boundaries they never thought they would cross, is to “Put the line down where it hurts.”

If you find yourself crossing boundaries in a car, maybe you need to save the kissing for when you’re out of the car. If something “hurts” to cut out, that can be a good indication that you should draw a line and make a new boundary. Boundaries can be added, but they should never be taken away.

The truth is, if you move it even a little bit you will find it easy to disregard your boundaries altogether. And to be honest, that is exactly what will happen.

5. GET ACCOUNTABILITY.

Nope, your accountability partner is not your boyfriend or fiancé.

You need someone from the outside who can see things clearer than you and who will boldly ask you the uncomfortable questions.

Oh yeah. The questions you hope they will not ask, but need them to.

The healthy fear of knowing someone will check up on you will help you in hard moments. Make sure you trust your accountability partner and verbally give them permission to ask the hard questions.

It is so powerful to have someone running alongside you and cheering you on!

6. PHYSICALLY PACE YOURSELF.

This one is the hardest for people to apply…

Why? Because it requires being honest with yourself and, typically, doing the opposite of what you want.

I can tell you from personal experience – this is the most critical step, next to your relationship with Jesus. Where are you headed, physically?

If you’re dating, let’s assume that you have plans (or, at least in your head) for marriage.

 

Are you in school?

How many years do you have before you both can make that commitment?

Do you even want to get married soon?

 

Let’s say that you think you will get married in 2-3 years or have at least two years before you would even consider marriage.

You have already been dating for a few months and the likelihood that you will have your first kiss soon is very high. If you kiss now, and still have a while of dating left, do you think you are physically pacing yourself for success?

Are you going to be able to handle that level of temptation in the long run? If you are human, the odds are against you because the truth is the longer you wait, the harder it becomes.

The reason I am asking the hard questions, and challenging you to do the hard things, is because not falling into sexual sin before marriage IS HARD.

But, I know you can do it….

 

This week I will walk down the aisle and marry the man of my dreams. I remember when I was young and I made the decision to wait and give everything to my husband.

I waited.

He waited.

And together we fought to wait.

 

Even if you have struggled with sexual sin in the past, what the devil meant for shame, hurt, and brokenness, can be redeemed. God wants your story to be beautiful.

Waiting is worth it. The fight is worth it. Saying no now is actually saying an ecstatic “YES” later on.

Always cheering you on,

Lyss

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What An Old Testament Shunammite Woman Taught Me About Discretion.

This morning I read the entire fourth chapter of 2 Kings in its entirety. I don’t always read whole chapters, but today, I just could not seem to put my bible down.

After wrapping up, I had a revelation about the Shunammite woman that I don’t believe I’ve had before. In the text, her preteen/teenaged son apparently suffered a stroke or an aneurysm, and once he died in her arms, she made a b-line to Elisha — the man of God who prophesied that God would even give her a son in the first place. The ENTIRE TIME, from the moment she decided to go to get Elisha up until the boy was raised back to life, she said “all is well” or “everything is fine” when people asked how she was doing — despite the fact that her son just died. I know people give a lot of flack when Christians “pretend” that everything is fine when things are falling apart and I always thought this woman was doing the same thing….BUT The LORD revealed to me this morning that she wasn’t “faking” at all. She was in all actuality practicing wise discretion.

TRUTH: We all go through crazy events and trials that make us feel hopeless and afraid YET we need not “waste” our precious strength sharing our every woe with EVERYone. That was the key difference between the Shunammite woman and those Christians who act like life is all sprinkles & unicorns. This woman was no fake. She had a need and knew where to get it filled. She didn’t spend precious seconds risking being thrown off her mission by telling people who couldn’t help her her problems. She basically told them, she was alright and kept it moving. She didn’t say “fantastic” or “magnificent” — just alright. Then The Holy Spirit said to me, “Jocelyn, THAT is how you need to be. That is how God TRULY wants His children to act. Not fake and phony, but not sulky and or sluggish. YAHWEH is the first one Who you should tell your problems too — not friends or social media! Some people may have good intentions but will ultimately do nothing but damage your faith that God can fix your problem. Yes, God gives you a trusted few to physically vent – but remember keyword FEW!”

That revelation floored me. The Holy Spirit was absolutely right (he always is for that matter.lol) The Shunammite woman didn’t even go into great detail with her own HUSBAND when he asked why she was hurrying to see Elisha. She simply said “everything is alright, I’m going anyway” and she was on her way.  To have a drama-less life, guard your mouth and only share your issues with people GOD gives you peace about. That may be ONE person in the entire world and that’s okay.

I plan to make changes to be more like the Shunammite woman and guard my mouth. Be careful who I tell your business to, and be careful who I share my prayer life with. Sometimes the conversation will just need to be between myself and God as I seek my healing, restoration, blessing or whatever I may be in need of at the time. And that’s okay.

Be Blessed, Joc

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MY TOP 3 BOOKS FOR FEMALE BUSINESS BOSSES!

Owning your own business can be hard. Like REALLY hard most of the time.

When I first started Joc’s Photography I spent my time scouring the wide world of Google for any insight on how to make it as a serious female business owner; even if I was just starting out. It seemed like it took me FOREVER to track down tangible “mentors” in the art/entertainment industry and I promised myself, that as soon as I began to see progress, I would share my insight one day so other young women won’t have to struggle as hard as I did to find their place in the world.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post. Even though I’m a good few years late, I’ve decided to share three books that have truly changed my life in the best ways! As a single female entrepreneur (also working a full-time job) it’s tough figuring things out on your own. You know, trying to juggle your dreams, with your love life, and friends/family — it honestly gets overwhelming at times; but, regardless of how hopeless the journey may have gotten at times, the insight I’ve gained from these three ladies through their books are always good to re-up my creative tank and keep me pushing towards my goals!

 

#1 — THE GIRLPRINT by Valeisha Butterfield Jones

I must admit, when I purchased this book, I was a bit biased since I have personal ties the author. See, Valeisha grew up in the very same small town as I did and to see her go on working for the likes of Russell Simmons, President Barack Obama, and found her own nonprofit organization was all the testimonial I needed to hit that ORDER button! Though we’ve only had conversations in passing, I inherently expected her to pour her soul onto these pages before opening that Amazon box, and boy oh boy did she deliver!

If you are a woman interested in art, entertainment, or business in general, this book lays out a strategic blueprint (that Valeisha used herself) to help you propel your dreams into action. Even though I had big dreams prior to reading this book, my inner determination kicked up a notch when I closed the back cover. The Girlprint really gave me the push I needed business wise to work through the ups and downs and plan a course of action as a lady boss.

Image result for the girlprint valeisha

You can buy THE GIRLPRINT here:  http://amzn.to/2gfkrv6

 

#2 SUCCESSFUL WOMEN THINK DIFFERENTLY by Valorie Burton

I forgot what initially inspired me to order this book, but I’m thankful for it! This book is laying in my bag tattered and bent up from having been read so much. I remember thumbing through the pages for the first time and thinking “Where have you BEEN ALL OF MY LIFE!?!” Of course, it was an exaggeration, but for a woman in her early 20s at the time, I felt like I was aimlessly wandering around life trying to figure out what it meant to be a woman post-grad. I was just growing in my personal faith/spiritual walk at the time I first cracked this baby open, and I was pleased to find the author discussing the importance of trashing the “‘I’ll do _________ someday” mindset and thriving from setbacks instead of wallowing in them.

When you’re a business owner, you’ll have rough periods. In the 10 years I’ve been freelancing as a photographer I’ve had some pretty low moments (personally and business-wise) but applying principles spoken of in this book has allowed me to grow where I have been planted and renew my love for the art that makes my heart sing! If you want to cultivate the attitude necessary to real kick butt in life, you need to purchase this book like YESTERDAY!

Successful Women Think Differently

You can snag Valerie’s book for yourself here: http://amzn.to/2gfVpfg

 

#3 OVERLOAD by Joyce Meyer

JOYCE MEYER IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL! If you are a woman of faith (or considering growing in your faith) this book is definitely for you. I know you may be thinking “Um Joc, what does Joyce Meyer have to do with being a female entrepreneur?” My answer to you: everything!

Living in this age it’s easy to become overloaded with the limitless options in food, homes, career paths, men…so being able to center yourself, calm yourself, and focus on saying ‘yes’ to what really matters is vital for a prosperous life. In business as a woman, you are tasked with wearing SO many hats that you need a book like this to help you take hold to your peace of mind and become rooted in your faith. Afterall, what you believe in and think about the most eventually shows up in your life somewhere down the line. If you’re a photog wife and mom struggling to keep your head up. If you’re a freelancer with a full-time job (like me) wondering how on earth you can fit LIFE inside of life. If you work a corporate job and feel like no one really hears your voice. GET THIS BOOK!

You’ll learn how to finally let go of emotional stress, activate peace, and how to apply biblical wisdom in a practical way so you can experience life like you never have before!

Image result for overload joyce meyer pdf

This book was so good, I ordered TWO copies (so I could give one to a friend) and I purchased the audio reading for the car. Go on and get your own copy here: http://amzn.to/2gyM7b5

 

Drop me a comment or email and let me know what you think of these books! I hope they change your life like they’ve changed mine!

Peace & Photos,

Jocelyn

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