Category Archives: Society and Such

When The Temptation Is Still There…

I was excited when my Youtube notification told me KevOnStage Studios posted a new video with a really amazing poet by the name of Jackie Hill-Perry!

WATCH THE INTERVIEW: Gay Girl, Good God with Jackie Hill Perry

When Jackie talks about having a correct view of God and being a Christian as it relates to temptation – I AM FOR IT!

Even if I can’t eloquently state it in words, this is what I try to convey to my friends and family…..well, really PEOPLE for that matter….when it comes to the practice of celibacy. Being celibate doesn’t mean you’re not tempted…. just like being in a heterosexual marriage after you’ve left a lifestyle of homosexuality doesn’t erase the thoughts that might present themselves……in the very same way being clean from drugs or alcohol doesn’t translate that you have absolutely NO vulnerability to the temptation to drink or do drugs again.

LISTEN. The supernatural HELP and STRENGTH to flee temptation is one of the MAIN BENEFITS of knowing and believing in God! Life on earth is tough for ANYONE. This is why I am so confident that God is real. I have experienced His power in my life PERSONALLY and no one can take that away from me! I know what life is like going to church just because your parents make you go. I know what it’s like sitting through sermons and VBS every summer without truly understanding that the words on the pages in front of you actually have POWER in real life!

It is NO coincidence that I’ve been celibate for about 10 years. It’s a matter of being intentional not to give in to the temptation that presents itself to me daily.

I have to put parameters in place and UTILIZE the spirit of self-control God has given me in order to stay on the right path. The God path for my life. There are few things tougher than going from being sexually active to doing nothing at all (I’m sure there are but for the purpose of this blog I’m going to say so.) Like many of you all, when I dated in the past, it was expected: you date a guy, you have sex with him because you like him, all is normal. That was until a terrible ending to a bad [relation]ship made me realize that my life was a hot mess.

When I made the conscious choice to change and really live for God, I did so because I loved Him. I wanted to know HIM, and the decision to be celibate was one of the things that came along with it. God’s Holy Spirit revealed to me, in my quest in knowing Him, that in addition to all the practical reasons to abstain from sex as an unmarried [young] woman, sex was preventing me from truly connecting with Him. I can honestly say that this was a seriously wise move. In the years since I made the decision to be celibate, so many blossoms of creative ideas, businesses, authentic ministry, friendships, blessings, spiritual intimacy have unfolded in my life.

Like Jackie expressed in this video, it wasn’t like overnight I had no sexual desire at all and experienced no temptation; but as time progressed, grew closer to God, and utilized his Word living a celibate life got EASIER. To this day, the temptation is still there because I’m human, but I use self-control to suppress it because I know it won’t do me any good to give into it. If I give into sexual temptation right now as an unmarried woman, I risk harming not only myself but being pulled further away from God.

So if you’re out there and you’re feeling defeated or are contemplating giving up on your commitment to abstinence because you still struggle with temptation– DON’T! Temptation is always going to be there, it’s a matter of not letting it win. Here are some things that have helped me and will prayerfully help you in some way!

Tool # 1 — Strategically avoid people and things that are overtly sexual in nature.

This goes for movies, Youtube videos, music videos, music that’s overtly sexual (sorry Meg and Trey fans), and books. No lie, it took me 1 ½ years to watch Girls Trip because I knew at the time it was released in theatres, I wouldn’t be able to handle seeing at night. (I’ll leave it right there. I don’t think I need to explain myself any further about that.) I also had to distance myself from a few friends because we used to cut up with and I knew that I had to back away from all of that if I was going to really be able to give this celibacy thing a shot. I made it known [to friends] when I finally made the decision to be celibate why I was always declining their offers for ‘girls’ night’ or club or kickbacks. I wasn’t strong when I first started this journey. Now, that I’m basically 10 years in, I’m stronger, but I still have to be careful of what I watch and what events I attend. As time passed, certain ‘base level’ temptations no longer tripped me up like they once did because I learned to recognize them for what they were.

Tool # 2 — Get you some accountability partners!

This one is right on up there to the top of the list. One point Jackie made in the video was regarding the importance of ‘community’. We were NOT made to ‘do’ life alone. We have no real strength simply in and of ourselves; we need God’s strength first, but also the support of a trusted community member. This can be a parent, a sibling, a friend, a church friend – someone who will help you in your weakest moments. When I decided to be celibate, I was about a month or two out of a toxic [relation]ship and needed peeps who wouldn’t judge me if I called them to talk/distract myself when I was feeling like scrolling my cell phone for an ex to call. Accountability partners kept me from making some choices I would’ve seriously regretted! But let me tell you all, I didn’t truly see the benefit of accountability partners until I got into my first relationship since deciding to be celibate. It was one thing to deny temptation as a single person but when I actually had a partner PHYSICALLY THERE and available to enjoy – whewwww I was constantly texting my folk just to help keep my mind straight.

Tool # 2.5 – If you are in or get into a relationship, be up front and set boundaries up front!

I wanted to say that when you do end up in a relationship, you need to make sure your partner knows up front what the deal is. Don’t leave things up to assumption and don’t hang your celibacy wholly on them. Your partner may not have been practicing celibacy as long as you have (or even at all) so it’s not fair (or wise) to say to yourself, “…okay, in my weak times I’ll just leave it up to my partner to tell me no because they know that I want to stay abstinent.”

No no no baby, what is you doinnnn?! lol

True, you need to make sure your partner is on the same page as you are, but you have to utilize YOUR self-control and they have to use THEIRS. There will be plenty of times where you’ll have close calls, and when this happens (because it will), YOU have to physically stop yourself, back things up, verbally express to your partner that things are getting too heated, and reach out to an accountability partner to let them know, “…look we almost went there, pray for me!”

Overnight trips, sleepovers, Netflix & Chillin’ is not wise. If you’re going to spend time alone, let it be during the day. If you’re going to go out at night, keep things public and don’t go back to one another’s house. If you’re going to have a chill night at home, do it with a group of friends. If you’re going out of town, get separate hotel rooms or bring another couple. If you’re up front with your partner and set boundaries, the chances of you slipping up will be slim to none.

 

Tool # 3 – Never let your guard down.

This isn’t a tool so much as it is a tip. Depending on how long it is from the time you decide to be celibate to the time you’re married, you may get comfortable in your own abilities. Be proud of the journey you’re on, but don’t get too cocky. I can tell you from experience that it is much easier for me now coming on Year 10 than it was Year 1 or Year 2, but it still takes work. Whatever it is you promised God, don’t relax until you’ve done that thing. I’ll be even more transparent with you all…..when I originally decided I was going to get closer to God and abstain from sex until marriage, I thought I’d be waiting 3 to 4 years tops! I was fresh out of college and figured I’d still be married by the time I reached 25. I’m sitting in this chair typing this blog entry at 32 years of age. Ya’ll. YA’LL. YOU. ALL!!! I had to dig deep and really use wisdom these past 10 years to stay free of giving into sexual temptation. Of course your story details won’t look exactly like mine, but kept in mind, you never know when God will call you to marriage so you always have to make sure you’re alert. When you read this, I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed as if being celibate is another job and that you can never have fun. What I want, is for you to get a realistic expectation and realization that the moment you feel you have things under control and go over to ole dude’s or ole girl’s  house to watch a movie, they will hit you with “…why are you sitting all the way over there?” This will be the moment I want my words to ring in your ear ‘DON’T LET YOUR GUARD DOWN **insert your name here**” You will have to make the decision to put your guard up and allow that wisdom and those boundaries to kick in.

 

Tool #4 – Don’t give up. Know that you can do it.

Celibacy is like birthing a baby. Whether your baby is coming naturally or via cesarean, you experience pains and exhaustion like you probably never experienced before. You feel like your body can’t take any more, but that’s when you remember your ‘why’…that your baby is almost here and what you’re going through is worth fighting past every ounce of difficulty. The journey of staying celibate until marriage isn’t easy and there are times (and nights) where you feel like you can’t do it anymore. You’re not strong enough. When you fall into that mindset … KEEP PUSHING! Pray, listen to Christian music, watch Christian movies or videos until you fall asleep, read Bible scripture on what God promises you. Know that this celibacy journey is worth it – not just so you can finally enjoy married sex – but so you can experience the joy in knowing that you have developed self-control that will help you stay faithful and hopeful whenever you DO actually get married!

Temptation doesn’t end when you get married – it just evolves.

If you can flex your self-control muscles NOW while you’re un-married, imagine how much more of a leg up you’ll have when you DO get married and your spouse has to be deployed for 3 months? Or you have to go out of town on business for a weekend? You’ll know that YOU CAN withstand the temptation to just go out here and cheat out of sexual desire. You’ll be able to tap into tools you’ve gained during your celibacy to keep your desires in check until you can be reunited with your spouse.

So…don’t be hard on yourself if being abstinent is tougher than you originally thought. Even if you slip up, be firm with yourself, don’t beat yourself up and recognize where you need to change. Learn from your mistakes and know what you must do to have the upper hand next time.

 

Point blank….temptation is a beast, but so are you. If your motives for whatever it is you’re giving up – excessive partying, alcoholism, active homosexuality, habitual lying & manipulation, drugs, premarital sex – are rooted in God, you won’t fail. You may feel a little rocky, but again if your motives are tied back to God, He will sustain you. You may experience ‘failures’ but YOU are not a failure. Old desires will always present themselves to you, but through the strength that God gives and will build up in you, you won’t be controlled by them. I hope this encourages everyone who needs this.

Be blessed, Joc

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Filed under It's Me Joc, Quotes To Live By, Society and Such, The Christian Life

Just Mercy – A Call To White Christians

I’ve SERIOUSLY limited my social media and news intake in recent weeks to save myself the PTSD that can come from witnessing violent acts. BUT while still keeping my peace, I have been observant to stay aware of what is happening and the changes that are happening in our society.
George Floyd was not the first senseless black death at the hands of a white man. Sadly, he will not be the last.
If you’re African American or Bi-Racial (especially if your melanin is prominent) you know that killings, murders, and profiling has NEVER gone away. It’s been a constant even after Jim Crow was deemed ‘done with’ 50 + years ago. With the emergence of technology, it’s simply been amplified.
hands_pray_cropGreater than being a woman. Beyond being African American…I am a Christian. Not the ‘religious’ Christian that is prominent today where rules and regulations are followed ONLY in deed and not accompanied by a changed heart. I am a Christian who is a TRUE follower of Christ and have a relationship with God through the grace and saving of Jesus. BECAUSE I am, my heart is changed and I walk in His precepts because I WANT to. I mean if someone saved your life from a certain excruciating eternal death, you’d be inclined to live the best life you can to honor their sacrifice too. One thing to note, however; as teachings of Jesus have spread far and wide [over time], some of the Spirit has gotten lost in translation. Especially in America. For centuries, the Holy Bible has been misinterpreted and misused to perpetuate many evils; including the low down, animalistic institution of slavery. Since then, a few more eyes have been opened and TRUE Christianity embraced, but slavery’s ideals have had (and still has) a stronghold on the way America operates and systematic racism blankets the urgent progress this country desperately needs.
Fact. There are beautiful, truly loving and God-fearing Caucasian/white people who have heeded to what the Word says in Proverbs 31:8-9 ESV “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Fact. There have been small strides made since Jim Crow ran rampant. African Americans are now allowed to (albeit still challenged) pursue a college degree, work jobs other than sharecropping or maid work, and walk into large establishment chains such as McDonald’s, Starbucks and Target for service.
Fact. There are some people who believe slavery happened a millennium ago and don’t realize that it was merely 2-3 generations away. There are others who don’t realize that segregation was only outlawed in the 1960s. Most teens’ grandparents were born BEFORE then.
Due to the last fact mentioned, there are [some] whites (most who profess to be lovers of God and His people) feel like racism truly doesn’t exist today. That the murders of George Floyd, and Atatiana Jefferson, and Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin, and Tyrique Hudson were simply ‘unfortunate’ or somehow deserved because they were ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time.’ There are [some] whites who ascribe to the last fact mentioned, see the first two facts, and believe the issue can be filed under ‘problem solved’ — despite the systematic racism that plagues the United States. They feel it’s nothing they DID so they are ‘sick’ of being blamed for something they didn’t ‘do’ and ‘simply benefit from.’ They yell out, ‘FORGIVE and MOVE ON!” and, type blissfully ignorant statements like, “God says to forgive those who do you wrong so just pray about it [and silently endure it without causing a fuss].”
Unfortunately, even the most well-meaning white person who says, posts, or thinks like this obviously doesn’t truly understand the biblical meaning of forgiveness.
Drawing9-3Forgiveness isn’t a call to do nothing to change a bad outcome. It’s a call to forgive and MOVE towards removing yourself from the situation as not to fall victim to the same abuse/sin again.
For example….say you’re friends with or are dating someone who constantly steals from you, is physically/verbally abusive to you, and sexually assaults you. You can forgive them for the way they have mistreated you, BUT action is required to change your situation correct?! You need to get away from that friend or leave that abusive relationship and seek lawful action. Even if you don’t feel safe or brave enough to take legal action, you still MOVE out of the house or out of that friends’ circle to CHANGE your negative situation.
Yes, God calls us to forgive those who mistreat us. That’s CLEARLY laid out in scripture. God also tells us faith without WORKS is dead. That is just as clear. You absolutely must forgive but don’t forget, lest you fall into the same abusive or toxic cycle that could lead to death.
So… through THIS thinking and through this lens of Christ is how whites and others who proclaim to be Christian SHOULD view the peaceful protesting and social media outcries consistently filling airwaves and timelines. Black people are being abused and murdered by racism. Peacefully protesting and demanding that systematic change occur is us simply FORGIVING racists and a racist system that has done us wrong while MOVING forward in an attempt to ESCAPE the toxicity of our abusive situation. (and for the not-so-smart alics….no, we will not go back to Africa…due to the documented fact that our ancestors were RIPPED away from their homelands, forced into slavery and raped by ‘masters family’ we have no CLUE where TO go! Also due to systems put in place to disenfranchise the black family, most of us wouldn’t even be able to make the money for airfare or location research.)
Just this week —
I came across a white woman I know in passing. We chatted mostly about the craziness of the pandemic until she began to speak on how unsafe she feels with the peaceful protests going on. She began to tell me of how ‘even Floyd’s family said don’t protest’  and of how she ‘saw on Facebook’ that black people were going out to the country and told to kill or beat up white people on site. She went on about how we should all be scared and how she will be ready with her gun inside her house…waiting.
I prayed before I responded, asking God to give me the words to say and tell me when I should stay silent. It was evident that this woman is simply ignorant. Plain ole ignorant. I say that not in the derogatory way many may interpret this word but from the actual definition of it. She is very nice and is cordial however she simply doesn’t understand the black plight in America. She doesn’t have black friends and grew up in what some may call ‘redneck’ lifestyle. Many of her family members ARE openly racist and prejudiced against African Americans despite growing up right down the street from them. I couldn’t fault her for the family she was born in but knew it was the time to educate her so she will at least BEGIN to see (even if she doesn’t immediately understand) how her views are skewed. She sees me … a black professional.  …and thinks racism and Jim Crow mentalities are over. Nope. They’re still here and are now bubbling back to the top. I spent a little time letting her know in an educated, loving nutshell …
…..GIRL ain’t nobody worried about ya’ll! We’re trying to better the system, not seek out some random white folks in the country just because. We’re better than that.
The FEW folks that are causing bodily harm do not represent the entire black community (especially the looters who aren’t even black!) Secondly, GEORGE Floyd’s family urged people to not tear up their community or resort to the same senseless violence that was enacted toward them. They did not say stop the peaceful protests. Keyword PEACEFUL. Also, the fact that I am a creative professional DOES speak to the progress made but still doesn’t exempt me from experiencing racism in my own life. Racists don’t care where I work, they just see my skin. I would dare go a step further and say that because I’m lighter skinned and have ‘mixed’ features, that some who DO ‘accept’ me wouldn’t accept me if my skin was a darker shade.
heart-of-godThis was one of the longest (if not the longest) blog posts I’ve written in a while, but I needed time to think about what I wanted to say. If you don’t read this entire post, or if it’s too much to remember, remember this: yes, God calls us to forgive those who treat us unjustly. Yes, black people need to and DO forgive whites for what they’ve done (throughout history) BUT we will NOT just STAY in a bad situation. We will not silently suffer when change truly can be made. We are sick of our loved ones being murdered and treated unfairly because they ‘look’ threatening. Even in the old testament — when an eye for an eye was the law — the punishments were parallel to the offense. You never saw someone steal some barley and be murdered for it! If you are a white person reading this post and profess to be a child God and follower of Christ….take a listen to what Pastor Carl Lentz said about standing up for black lives.
If you can’t love (and show love) to your black brother whom you see [every day], how can you love a God Whom you can’t see? (HINT: you can’t)
I’ll leave you with what Jeff (from the KLove Jeff and Randy show) said…..
Micah 6:8 says,
“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.”
Pride says I don’t understand you, so you’re wrong. Humility says I don’t understand you, can you help me.
–Be blessed, Joc

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Trusting an All Knowing God with An Unknown Future

This morning I woke up groggy and needing a good stretch.

If you’ve been living anywhere with a good ‘word of mouth’ circulation or newscast, you know the world is buckling down in the wake of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. So many things come to mind when I think about it, but one thing I do intentionally try to do is pray every day for our world, the U.S., and for God’s protection and provision in uncertain times.

If you’ve been around me longer than a few hours, you know that I will burst out in song at the drop of a hat. In fact, that’s the way I best commune with God. Yes, I read the bible and have private devotion. Yes, I pray. But many times my prayers are actually songs. There is no rational rhyme or reason to these songs, but they just flow and my heart spills out into the air. Well, as I was praying this morning, a song came to my heart and while it wasn’t an actual prayer, it was a song that I realized is more powerful today than I thought it would be.

The song is “Let’s Just Praise The Lord” by TD Jakes. If you’re of a decent age, you’ll remember when TD Jakes came out with this entire praise & worship album in the late nineties and it was FIYAH!! I began to sing the song’s lyrics as I got ready for the day and headed out for work. (My position is considered essential to the point that I have to physically go to work every day.) Normally by the time I get in my car, my mind will switch to some other thought, but this morning I couldn’t shake the song. I pulled it up via Bluetooth and turned my stereo volume as high as it would go! As the words escaped my mouth, tears began to fall and I just WAILED! I felt God’s tangible presence leap from this song and the lyrics enveloped me in a blanket of security, provision, safety, joy, and peace.  

Why?

Because in the wake of this pandemic, I believe God is calling US as humans to be still for a moment and turn to Him.

How can we POSSIBLY be still when He is shaking this world to pieces and splitting up families?!

The answer isn’t easy, but simple. Just be. Be intentional about calling out to Him. Pray, journal, sing, cry – do something intentional that shows you are seeking Him for guidance.

If you take some time to put God first, HE will reveal so many things to you. If you take time to offer up a simple praise to Him, you can unlock so many hidden revelations that you otherwise wouldn’t understand.

So as I sang, listened and cried to this song, I realized that God truly is worthy to be praised! Even in the midst of this current chaos, He still deserves it.

Praise the Lord,

He has done great things for me.

Praise the Lord,

He gave me the victory.

Praise the Lord,

He is shelter from the storm.

Praise the Lord,

He is worthy to be praised.

Yes, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected my family and affected my way of life, but all in all, I still praise God.  I recognize the enormity of His blessings compared to the inconveniences I’ve experienced. Yes, this pandemic is cause for concern, but not cause to stay fearful.  Whether it’s ‘how this bill is going to get paid’ or ‘what meal can I make out of what little I have in the pantry’I trust the All-knowing God in an unknown future.

He has brought me a mighty long way,

(A mighty long way),

He has taught me how to pray.

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine,

I’ve got to let men know

Everywhere that I go.

We as a world have come to praise so many created things: social media, musicians, socialites, Netflix, relationships, money, status, horoscopes, friends – that we (as a whole) have neglected to reverence God as the CREATOR who CREATED all of these things in the first place! Whether you see it or not – the morality in this world is going down. People are becoming eviler, the climate is perpetually in crisis, and people are fighting to make a case to live how they WANT to live, even if it’s not how GOD wants them to live. We CAN’T keep scamming folk and think God isn’t going to notice. We CAN’T keep glamourizing hoe-ing and pill poppin’ and think God isn’t going to speak up. We can’t keep glorifying selfish, corrupt living and think God isn’t going to act. Like any parent, He isn’t going to allow us to go down the wrong path and not do something to wake us up. He is going to step back a second and say, “…okay, this is what you REALLY want??! Well, I’ll allow the consequences of some of this stuff to knock some sense into you.”

2 Chronicles 7:14 (New Living Translation) declares that, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” In this particular context of the bible, God is specifically speaking to the Hebrew people BUT this statement spans generations – and definitely applies to us. We (as a whole) have forgotten to reverence God for Who He truly is. He is not some wimpy figment of our imaginations – He is a strong, all-powerful God Who sees all. I know many people still can’t fathom how a loving God can allow people to suffer. I am not going to claim to know the EXACT answer because I don’t, but I do know, from personal experience, that there have been times I have suffered physically and financially due to the actions of the GROUP or WHOLE. I personally had my stuff together, but because of the reckless actions of a particular GROUP, I felt the same pain of punishment as well. I believe that is what is happening to us right now. We are TRULY in this life together and the actions of society as a WHOLE has opened up a box of wrath/punishment that ALL of us are witnessing.

But this leads me back to how I started this post….

I recognize the importance of staying turned towards God in this moment. This is a time to praise Him for all that He has done (great and small) and seek Him for help with the future. Even if this year has been crap for you, there is STILL something you can praise Him for.

So, when you finish reading this post I suggest you take some time to do this:

  1. Write down a list of ANY blessing in your life (ie/ bills were postponed, woke up feeling decent, your family is safe, finished school, had enough food last week, kids are good)
  2. Write down something that has happened in your life you KNOW wouldn’t have happened without God’s divine intervention (ie/new job, bills were paid, found a new friend, didn’t meltdown at work, terrible boss retired)
  3. Sit or lie still. Have complete silence or play an instrumental that soothes you. Close your eyes, or stare straight ahead. Ask God to ‘speak’ to your heart.

 

And that’s it. Stay in it for however you long you feel necessary. He may move your heart in a certain direction. You may feel Him tugging you to change this habit or reach out to that person. You may even feel like God’s not saying anything just yet – but take the time to do it anyway; He may give you a revelation another week down the road. In these uncertain times, focus your attention ABOVE and I’ll pray WITH you that we all come out of this better than we were going in.

–Stay blessed, Joc

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I Could Have Been Her. [Trauma While Black]

Every day on my way to work I come to a familiar (and awkward) intersection; finding myself face to face with the woman of “what could have been”.

Let me explain.

I work in a small town and often see faces of people from yearbooks past and find out what most I graduated with don’t – what happened to __________?! Back in college, one of my high school acquaintances and I became closer and began hanging out with each other more. This meant meeting each other’s families and knowing parents and cousins on a first name basis. I distinctly remember one special cousin in particular who would come up to the college to hang out in our rooms some weekends. Cousin and my friend were more like sisters really! She was still in high school (about 3 years younger than us) and I remember her being so entranced by the college life. She was tall, skinny and was a really pretty girl overall. She would LOVE getting into some of everything, asking a million questions and sticking her nose into everyone’s business. To her college was another world.

Well, as college progressed, my friend and I eventually went our separate ways and adventured into young adult life. This also meant we didn’t see each other’s families like we once did – including Cousin.

Fast forward 11 or 12 years, and notice a strange woman aimlessly wandering up and down the street not far from where I work. It’s common to see kids skipping school or people saving gas by walking, but I quickly noticed that this woman was different. Not wanting to be rude, I’d try to sneak a glance at her face, but it seemed every time I passed her on the way to work she’d be walking IN my direction, so I’d have to turn all the way around to see her face. One day, I decided to just throw caution to the wind and look around. What I saw broke my heart.

It was Cousin.

She had transformed into someone virtually unrecognizable. Her hair had been shaved. She’d picked up at least a good extra 80 pounds and she had the distinctive stare of someone who had suffered mental trauma. Growing up in and out of hospitals and meeting countless of my mother’s special education students, I have developed a knack for recognizing when something is “not all there” with someone. Cousin had that stare. Since then, I’ve studied her as I drive to work. I’ve even waved a time or two to no avail. Her blank stare and babbling otherworldly chatter leads me to speculate – what happened? What happened to transform this giddy, lively girl into a woman who may not even know where she is most times?

Did she have an accident where she sustained a brain injury that left her incapacitated? Did she have a surgery that went wrong? Did she experience a traumatic experience that triggered the onset of mental illness? Is she under a spiritual attack?!

Looking at her each week puts me into a reflective state of “she could have been me”. She could have been any one of us really. Think about your own life for a few minutes.

Have you experienced a heartbreak or trauma that could have made you “lose your mind”?

Were you ever involved in an accident or event where you could have suffered a brain injury?

Have you ever felt the weight of your problems plunge you in a spiritual darkness, constantly hovering over you?

The truth is YOU and I escaped those things. Cousin, unfortunately, didn’t.

Take time today to really check on your friends, families, and classmates. Offer them an encouraging word if you notice on social media (or in passing) that they are struggling with something. Encourage them to seek professional and spiritual help. Let them know that there is NOTHING wrong with investing in a therapist and spiritual counselor. There is still mass stigma in the black community regarding seeking professional help for trauma.  It’s one thing to not be able to afford it, it’s another to simply dismiss the benefit of it.

As long as I see Cousin, I will continue to thank God that while I could have been her, I am not her! I will continue praying for her…her family…that they get the answers and help they seek. I don’t truly know what had happened to her, but I pray whatever it is, she stays safe, that she doesn’t hurt anyone else and that we all count our blessings!

— Joc

 

ps. Here are some helpful recources for you if you want more information specifically catered for African Americans!

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/african-american

  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/culturally-speaking/201111/why-african-americans-avoid-psychotherapy

  3. https://www.therapyforblackgirls.com/

  4. http://bridgehavencounseling.org/counseling/profile-of-omar-king/

 

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Final Verdict on My Recent Anti-Fibroid Diet

This past weekend I let you in on my exhilarating experience in changing my diet to knock out the painful symptoms of fibroids and menstrual cycles while having them.

Day 4 – For breakfast, I found that saltine crackers are working well, so I stick with a few of those. It’s a Saturday so my day is filled with running errands, taxing family members around town and editing more photos from the wedding I photographed the week prior. Thank God I was able to finish off the last bit of salmon leftover from earlier in the week. I was able to pop it in the microwave and go! I felt like I was drinking more tea than water over the past few days, so I opted to drink water instead.  In between running errands, I had some time to reflect on how amazing I felt compared to how I felt a mere three weeks ago. UNBELIEVABLE! For dinner, I wanted to try something different so I decided to get about a pound of lean ground turkey (93% lean), brown rice, and make a Thai curry bowl using the leftover pineapple I had in the fridge. I was a little nervous because I’ve learned that bad fats exacerbates pain and nausea from fibroids but I decided to jump off the food ledge anyway and it paid off BIG TIME! While I finished up more work around town, I had a sweet potato baking in the oven and after sprinkling some plain cinnamon and a dash of kosher salt gobbled it up like it was a piece of cake!

 

Day 5 – Yesterday was the fifth day of my diet and it had the potential to be the most challenging yet. Up to this day, I had “max control” over prepping my food, but Sundays are usually the days where I not only eat two meals a day (before and after church), but I usually eat out with my family to bond. Of course, it felt like I was swatting down offers to try ‘this fried food’ and ‘that buttery roll’, but I made it through! I ordered the baked salmon with grilled mixed veggies and asked the waitress to leave off the lemon butter sauce (which no doubt would’ve tasted SO good!!! Uggghh) I also opted for a plain baked sweet potato with cinnamon instead of my beloved Caesar salad (the rich, creamy dressing is a no-no when it comes to cramps).  When I heard my grandma ask for brown sugar my heart lit up! After a quick Google search, I found that BROWN sugar does not complicate cramps like processed white sugar does. I IMMEDIATELY flagged down the waitress and asked her to add a small side-cup of brown sugar to my order. MAN OH MAN was I a happy camper! Not only was the salmon ON POINT (not as good as mine though.lol) but the brown sugar was the sweetness I’d been craving ALL DOGGONE WEEK! I didn’t even care that everyone else was drinking sweet tea and I had ice water.

 

So now I have neared the end of my little ‘experiment’ and I must say I am in PURE AWE of how God can heal us through FOOD of all things! This week has been the first in a little over 2 years that I have not experienced nausea and cramps during ‘lady week’ and if I will bare the honest truth to you all — I almost cried last night from the joy of it all. There is nothing like experiencing the warmth of the sun after battling through a cloudy, violent storm. So many dots are connecting in terms of behaviors, symptoms, and happenings. While I would’ve preferred not to have experienced the pain at all, I am grateful for what I’ve learned in spite of it and here are my main takeaways:

#1 FOOD… CAN… HEAL! Saying that humans complicate things is a gross understatement. We do it in the worst way and in every way! God is God. Elohim. The Creator of this whole kit-n-kaboodle we call a universe. He created us and knows what is good for our bodies — which is why He created certain foods with certain properties. While I enjoy the convenience of many processed foods and the speed in which I can have them on my table and the length of time they can be preserved in my panty — I now know without a shadow of a doubt, that it is not worth trading organic healing food properties for convenience. Will I drop EVERYTHING and start a farm tomorrow, never to eat at ChickFilA again? Probably not. But I will keep striving to steadily chance my lifestyle so I can make choices that keep my body happy and healthy.

#2 Being mindful of what you consume during your menstrual cycle can make or break your experience. As previously mentioned, the discomfort I experienced this past week was virtually nonexistent. By carefully choosing foods and drinks that were not only healthy but fibroid fighters, I traded in a bedridden week of sickness and gut-punching pain for a fancy-free week of effective productivity.

#3 Fibroids are the worst, but they don’t have to be. When I was diagnosed with having fibroids, I didn’t really know what to think or how to feel. I just knew I didn’t want them. I can honestly say that this week I felt shift internally and won’t be surprised if, after more time walking in this healthier lifestyle, my fibroids shrink away into oblivion. I have a few doctors appointments coming up so we will see how I’m doing! I know women who have had fibroids simply starve themselves off and never had to deal with them. I know women who have opted to have surgery instead. Either way, I am hopeful that fibroids won’t interfere or ruin my life. As long as I focus on living the best life God has for me, and praying for His guidance when it comes to making the wisest choices for ME — I will be alright. I will be BETTER than alright!

As I petitioned before, please keep me in your prayers as I continue to better myself and share the journey with you!

— Joc

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The Silent Marriage Killer

I was scouring the internet for topics that we could discuss at my love/dating event The Opposite Sex Revealed 4 (visit HERE details & tickets) and I came across this article by Derek Harvey called “The Silent Marriage Killer More Deadly Than Sex & Money—I Wasn’t Ready for This…” Here’s how it read:

Just after my wife and I got married, we attended a seminar on aiding the rehabilitation of human trafficking victims, particularly those trafficked for sex. (I won’t get into all that…that’s another story for another day.) In one of the presenter’s talks, he asked the audience what the biggest cause of divorce was. Since I had just been through premarital counseling, I pretty much felt like an expert at marriage. I shot my hand up quickly to answer the question, and blurted out, “Sex, money and communication!” …then looked at my wife next to me and grinned. Too easy.

“Wrong,” the presenter barked back. “Those are symptoms of the real problem.”

Ouch. Embarrassed much?

Not only was I given a sharp lesson in humility, but what followed changed my life. I was about to be told the best piece of marriage advice that this young, prideful, newly married man-boy could’ve ever asked for.

He continued…

“The reason marriages end in divorce is because of one thing…unmet expectations.”

*mind blown*

My newly married man-boy brain couldn’t handle the revelation. I don’t remember much of what was said after that. I was too busy thinking of all the unmet expectations I was already experiencing after being married a month.

Since that seminar six years ago, I have seen the pain and frustration that plays out from having unmet expectations, not just in marriage, but in all relationships. It’s a deadly venom that flows to the heart and wreaks havoc in relationships.

But having unmet expectations isn’t just a marriage problem. It’s a life problem.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re single, married, working, unemployed, old, young or [insert demographic here]. Having unmet expectations is lethal to everyone. No one is immune.

So…what’s the solution?

I’m a math guy. I ‘heart’ equations. I love crunching numbers and thoroughly enjoyed algebra and calculus in high school (although I probably couldn’t do a calculus problem to save my life now). So I came across an equation.

EXPECTATION – OBSERVATION = FRUSTRATION

Here’s what that means. Below are two hypothetical situations played out…

EXPECTATION

When I come home from a long day at work, I EXPECT my wife to have dinner prepared and ready for us to sit down and eat as a family. She’ll be wearing an apron with no food stains on it (because she’s perfect like that) and her hair will be perfectly done up. Meanwhile, my 16-month old daughter will sit in her high chair and eat with utensils…never missing her mouth, which makes cleanup a breeze. After we all finish eating at exactly the same time, we’ll head out into the Colorado sun and go for a nice family stroll, while the butler (you read that right…BUTLER son) cleans up the kitchen and prepares our home for evening activities.

OBSERVATION

I come home from work thirty minutes late, and dinner hasn’t even been thought of…much less started. Because of this, my toddler is screaming her head off, signing “MORE! PLEASE! EAT!” When I search for my wife, I find her working on a design project trying to meet a deadline that’s technically already past due. When I ask what’s for dinner, she glares at me the way only an overworked, overtired work-from-home-momma can glare (it can scald your pupils…so the legend goes). After picking up my toddler, I make my way into the kitchen to find an abundance of NO GROCERIES. So, being the manly chef that I am, I set my eyes on cheese and bread. “Grilled cheese!” I exclaim. I put my daughter in her high chair as an influx of rage bursts from within her. I quickly grab the apple sauce pouch to appease her. It works…for now. I get to work on my grilled cheese sandwiches. Everyone eats. The kitchen is left a mess. Toys are scattered throughout the living room just waiting to break someone’s ankle. My wife and I collapse on the couch, avoiding eye contact and avoiding volunteering to clean the kitchen. I could keep going but…you get the picture.

FRUSTRATION = The difference between the two.

Quite an elaborate illustration, I know. But I’m trying to paint the picture of what our expectations can be like versus what life is actually like…what we observe. (DISCLAIMER: In no way was that illustration indicative of my actual life. It’s either not true at all, or highly exaggerated…or spot on. The jury’s still out.)

Antonio Banderas says it best,

“Expectation is the mother of all frustration.”

The fact of the matter is this: In life, we often have expectations that go unmet, and we’re often frustrated because of it.

But we don’t HAVE to be.

Here’s the answer: Let your OBSERVATION take precedence over your EXPECTATION. Period.

In other words, go with the flow.

Some would say to not have any expectations at all. But I wouldn’t go that far. I think healthy, realistic expectations that are communicated are good to have. They’re something to reach for.

But when you come into a situation and your expectations aren’t met, let your observation take the lead. Discard your expectation in the moment and deal with reality at hand.

Tired of being frustrated? Then set aside your unmet expectations and face reality head on. Then, after the fact, have a conversation with whoever is involved about what you expect and why.

In what ways have you dealt with unmet expectations? How have you positively handled facing reality? What other ways have you combated frustration? 

What do you think? How do you feel?

You can check out more from Derek here: http://faithit.com/silent-marriage-killer-derek-harvey/

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<3 Lovely Advice <3

giphy (21)Health:

    1. Drink plenty of water.
    2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
    3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
    4. Live with the 3 E’s – Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
    5. Play more games.
    6. Read more books than you did in 2010.
    7. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
    8. Sleep for 7 hours.
  • Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

giphy (9)Personality:

  1. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  2. Don’t have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
  3. Don’t over do. Keep your limits.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  5. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
  6. Dream more while you are awake.
  7. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  8. Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
  9. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
  10. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
  11. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  12. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
  13. Smile and laugh more.
  14. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.giphy (20)

Society:

  1. Call your family often.
  2. Each day give something good to others.
  3. Forgive everyone for everything.
  4. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
  5. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  6. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  7. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.giphy (5) 11

Life:

  1. Do the right thing!
  2. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  3. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  4. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  5. The best is yet to come.
  6. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

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Comparisons and Idols = #RelationshipKillers

Soooooooooo it’s been awhile since I’ve spilled my thoughts onto these digital pages so let me commence to spillin’…..

17038467_3267564373568_7968188302165185448_oOver the past few months, I ‘ve been gearing up for the website relaunch of my non-profit event The Opposite Sex Revealed. (I’m excited to official be able to say non-profit). At its core, The Opposite Sex Revealed (The OSR for short) is an annual panel forum hosted in Wilson NC that allows guests to dress up, enjoy positive and fruitful conversation while getting their deepest questions answered about and BY the opposite sex!

Naturally, all of this relationship and marriage talk has me in the mindset of — dun dun dunnnnnn love! Seeing as how my last relationship ended going on six months ago (it ended on pretty awesome terms, complete with mutual understanding and all — I’m blessed ya’ll #unicornbreakup) I again found myself single, back in a space where I began to observe the dating world around me.

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One thing I’ve found (that didn’t change during the year and some change I was in a relationship) was the fact that COMPARISON and IDOLATRY have nearly saturated the entire sphere of love and marriage. What I mean by that is this: think about how dating must’ve been in the early 1900s compared to today. Today we can get a date with a swipe, we screen physical attributes before even meeting the person, and with our ability to travel, can carry on a relationship with someone a million miles away! If we feel they don’t fit in our life — on to the next. Before dating as we know it came into existence, there were no computers, cell phones, apps, access to world travel, and most people didn’t move from within 50 miles of their hometown. Many people (especially African Americans) didn’t go to college; let alone own a car so chances are you found your future spouse in the supermarket downtown or crossing the street.

Let me pause to say that I don’t advocate we shun everything technological and move to the Amish Country, but what I AM saying is, perhaps we should take into account that many of the elderly couples we see married 30, 50, even 70s years didn’t have access to the countless dating options we have today; thus they were put in a situation where the dating pool was simple and the lessons in love were hard. 

I think this is one reason why there were more long lasting marriages “back in the day”. Yes, I’m aware, some people just married for security. Yes, I’m aware that some just married to keep their families together. Yes, I’m aware that many marriages of old were arranged. Yes I’m aware that some people just got married to the first person they dated because they felt “stuck”. I’m not talking about those.

giphy (13)I’m talking about the simple courtships that blossomed into fortified “ride or die” marriages through faith and the mindset to love through the tough times. Without the distraction of a million potentials crossing their eye gates every 3 nanoseconds, they were more likely to stick with the 80/20 rule and work through the minor issues and flaws that fell in that 20%. 

Now-a-days, singles seem to fall into two categories:

GROUP A- They are afraid of commitment and often break up over minor flaws for fear of making the wrong choice. With so many potential mates out in the world, they are frequently going back-and-forth on whether or not they are dating the right person. They DO value marriage (or at least long-term companionship) but are often looking for a unicorn ….so they stay single as they float from person to person, refusing to FEEL like they’ve “settled”.

GROUP B- They have no current desire to commit or get married. They can be found consistently playing the field and have no problem changing from person to person until the time “feels right”.  They often believe love is flawed and have no real faith or hope in it anyway, so they just see where life takes them.

The clash of these two groups in cahoots with the “many options” we have and the idolizing of #marriagegoals without the willingness to put in the work has made for ONE BIG DISASTEROUS POOL OF BROKEN HEARTS AND COUNTLESS SINGLES!

What do you think?

Be Blessed,

Joc

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I Finally Figured Out Why So Many Toxic Men Were Drawn To Me

This afternoon, as I’m perusing Facebook looking for great content to repost, I come across an article from Bolde.com titled “I Finally Figured Out Why So Many Toxic Men Were Drawn To Me”.

**CLICK**

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I wasn’t a fan of the profanity, but the points were spot on!

1. I WAS TOO NICE. 

2. I GAVE THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. 

3. I WAS THEIR HOPE OF CHANGE. 

4. I WAS A FIXER. 

5. I AM TOO EMPATHETIC. 

6. I HAD GIVEN UP ON LOVE.

7. I DIDN’T HAVE HEALTHY BOUNDARIES. 

8. I WAS A GOOD LISTENER. 

9. I WAS TOO LAID-BACK AND EASYGOING. 

10. I DIDN’T VALUE MYSELF. 

11. I STAYED IN SITUATIONS LONGER THAN NECESSARY. 

I won’t take time going through the details, but I will say that this article speaks to my mindset in my late teens – early twenties! EVERY LAST POINT! I don’t know what’s wilder — the fact that there is someone out here who could put a “name” to my mindset, or the fact that someone just described my little dating life to a tee — either way, this is good!

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Take some time to check out the full article: http://www.bolde.com/finally-figured-out-many-toxic-men-drawn/

Blessings, Joc

 

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Wives Submit to your Husbands…

Ephesians 5 verse 21-33 is a popular piece of scripture that’s almost ALWAYS used in Christian counseling or when giving advice to individuals getting serious about dating for marriage.

Wives submit yourselves to your husbands.

The majority of us tend to stop at there at verse 22 but no one really focuses on what follows in verses 23-25:

“For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.  As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” (NLT version)

This talks about SACRIFICE. Jesus gave His life up for the church.

So yes, a woman should submit herself to her husband BUT he should be making sacrifices for her.

How can a woman be expected to submit to a man that she can’t respect?! The answer is simple. You can’t respect a man who:

  • Cheats with other women
  • Doesn’t work and isn’t out looking for a job
  • Expects his wife to support the family
  • Abuses his wife

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If you’re a guy thinking about marriage or are currently married, you’re not the “man of the house” if you just boss everyone else around! That’s not the way it’s supposed to be! A godly man does SO much more than that! He protects, provides, and sacrifices for his wife and children.

As a man, you only command respect if you:

  • take care of things concerning your family
  • are responsible
  • do what needs to be done so your family is taken care of
  • get out and work (even if your wife makes more than you)
  • are a good parent
  • put your family first

 

Anything else will get a…….

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Ladies catch a lot of flack for their struggle to submit to their husbands (yes I’ll acknowledge by the time we get into relationships we’re used to doing things our way) but rarely are men challenged to adopt a lifestyle that truly reflects a lifestyle worthy of submission.

So if you’re a woman dating a man who constantly cheats on you or abuses you in any way — you need to get out NOW! It’s not going to get better. Marrying him will only bring it out.

If you’re a woman dating a man who is always bouncing from job-to-job because he simply doesn’t want to work or if you’re married to a man who ups and quits his job out of nowhere — get help now! True, women can do these things but shouldn’t be expected to keep the house, raise the kids, AND take care of things outside the house. If you’re a woman who insists on doing that then fine. But just know it shouldn’t be EXPECTED of you if you want your relationship to mirror what God calls it to be. There needs to be balance! A man is not living up to what a true man is if he expects YOU to be the only one holding a steady job and providing for the family as a woman. No ma’am. I’m not knocking him if he makes LESS money than you  — that’s doable — at least he’s showing that he’s willing to work to support his family. But if you’re dating or thinking about marrying a man who just simply refuses to do anything but spend money — GET OUT NOW! If you’re already married GET COUNSELING NOW!!!

If you’re a woman dating or married to a man who expects you to change the tires, mow the lawn, drive the broken down car when he drives the new one, fix the leaky faucet, pay for the meals, pick HIM up and take him to work because he doesn’t feel like driving — GET HELP NOW! This behavior is not worthy of respect. Yeah if you’re married it’s not as easy, but with prayer and ACTION it’s possible for your husband to see where he needs to step up.

If you don’t, then you just signed yourself up for a lifetime of unnecessary stress that you as a wife shouldn’t have to take on.

Please know that this is not to slander men or badmouth them but it’s just something I noticed I thought needed to be addressed.

Be blessed,

Joc

 

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