Summer is right around the corner! I want to be super excited but I’m not. It is my least favorite season. I burn easily in the sun and I turn super tan. I absolutely don’t like being hot and sweaty.
I live in Florida and in my opinion, it is HOT regularly. Not to mention the weather is unpredictable. You just don’t really know what season or type of weather you’re going to wake up to. Florida’s weather has its own drum beat. So how does a lady dress modestly and stay cool during the summer? Here’s some of the way I keep my summers modest, stylish, and stay cool without looking like I just migrated from northern winter:
I wear sunscreen, drink lots of water (which I do regularly), and exercise. I don’t stop exercising just because it’s hot outside. I choose cooler times of the day to exercise. I normally prefer to walk or run outdoors but the summer I can tolerate the treadmill. You need to go to the gym or outside to get a nice effective workout in. Buy a mat and some weights, and make it happen at home. I avoid being directly in the sun at all cost. I use a sunscreen lotion of at least SPF 30 to protect my skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Stay hydrated! I can’t stress it enough how important it is to stay hydrated, especially during the summer. Dehydration and heatstroke are real! If you don’t like drinking water I am sorry, but you are missing out on life. Drinking a lot of water helps me maintain a clear and healthier skin. Try infusing your water with your favorite fruit(s) to add natural flavor to it if that will help. One of my favorite combos is strawberries with mint leave or lemon or cucumbers. Infused water is also great for detoxing. I use natural oils and skincare to keep my skin moist without looking greasy. My latest natural skincare beauty products are from shifrabeauty.com. your health and skin will thank you later.
I wear looser fitted and natural fabric clothing. Flowy maxi dresses and skirts are everything during the summer. If I didn’t have anything else to wear I would wear maxi dresses every day. I try to avoid fabrics that will stick to my body if start sweating. I go for the clothes in my closet that is made of breathable fabric. The more natural the fabric the better it is. Cotton is one of the best and most affordable natural fabric. I try not to wear the color black, especially during the day. The color absorbs heat. Even though black will make your body appear slimmer it’s not the best color to wear when it’s hot outside.
I avoid wearing unnecessary accessories. I love making a fashion statement, but a lot of times less is more. The less you carry around the easier it’ll be to stay cool. I have fun with patterns, stripes, and graphic t-shirts. Instead of carrying around my huge day to day handbag I opt out for some of my smaller purses and cross body bags. I don’t know about you but prefer larger handbags because I can carry my entire life in them. However, during the summer I just can’t. It’s too hot for all the extra weight. Now that I have a child I haven’t quite figured out yet how to carry around less. This summer should be interesting.
I wear summer hats. I like wearing summer hats, not just because they’re fashionable but they help protect my face from the sun’s heat. It’s also an enjoyable way to accessorize without doing too much. I like wearing the different type of hats. My choice of hat style depends on what I’m wearing. I like wearing Fedora style hats with maxi dresses and for summer evening outings. I think they’re super chic for summer. For a sporty or casual summer look, I like wearing baseball style hats or a dad cap. When I want to feel and look more feminine or rock a bohemian look I go for a large floppy hat. Chosenvesselsapparel.com has some nice ladies statement dad caps! I have a few and I love them.
I style my hair with summer-friendly hairstyles. I don’t like hair all over my face so when it’s hot outside I especially don’t want hair in my face. I prefer to style my hair in updos or pulled back away from my face. I don’t want any hair sticking to my sweating neck or be the reason why I’m hot and sweating. It’s not a good feeling! I use headbands or head wraps to keep my hair pulled back. It’s another way to accessorize or make a statement without doing too much. I also like hairstyles that allow my scalp to breathe, like box braids or cornrow braids.
I wear cover-ups. To the average person living in Florida wearing cover-ups might sound senseless. Sleeves are okay during the summer. If I need to be out in about during the day I prefer to wear shorter sleeves if it’s modest. They’re better than wearing tank tops and no sleeves. Tank tops are a means to expose skin, they don’t help keep you cool or protected from the sun’s heat. Instead of wearing heavy thick jackets and blazers I wear lightweight coverups and super thin denim. The key is to choose breathable fabrics versus wearing close to nothing.
When all else fail I wear white! It’s an easy effortless chic look and soft look. White doesn’t absorb heat like darker colors and black does. I love neutral colors overall but they’re seriously perfect for summer. If you must wear colors try wearing light colors like pastel hues.
Last but not at all the least important. I wear the right kind of shoes. There is such a thing. Summer is one of the best times to bring out your open-toe wedges, flats, sandals, and sneakers. I like wearing shoes that are comfortable and leave room for my feet to breathe. The summer’s heat will make it worse if you’re wearing shoes that uncomfortable. If you live in Florida like I do then you understand shy boots are a no for me during the summer. Comfort and breathable is key!
How do you stay cool and modest during the summer?
Many of us, myself included, are ashamed and afraid to be seen by others in our broken stages. Often that is when we can be poured out before God and be used the most by him.
When I hear the word “broken” it’s usually about something or someone that is damaged, not fit for use, or able to fulfill its designed purpose. Broken means reduced to fragments, not functioning properly or out of working order, weakened in strength or spirit, and having given up all hope or being defeated. That’s basically the opposite of being complete, connected or wholesome. The Bible, however, gave me a different or should I say better perspective of brokenness.
Psalm 34 verse 18 says, “the Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit”. This verse is referring to our hearts being broken over our sins. When we are truly sorry for our sins, which is brokenness, the Lord is present according to this verse. How awesome is that? To know that God is present in my brokenness. I believe for this to happen we must spend time getting to know Jesus and building an intimate relationship with him. This kind of response to sin is a result of time spent alone in God’s word and presence.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls”. Matthew 11:29
A broken heart and spirit is an acceptable sacrifice to God. Outside of this biblical or godly context, it’s unacceptable. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise”, Psalm 51 verse 17. God desires a repentant heart. A heart broken with sorrows for sin. Just as King David was in Psalm51 after the prophet Nathan came to him after he sinned with Bathsheba. True worship in spirit and in truth comes from a heart broken over sin and poured out before God.
There’s purpose in being broken and poured out. God will show up to heal us from the wounds of sin, forgive us, comfort us from our sorrow, then bind up our wounds. His presence can then fill us up with truth and righteousness. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds”, Psalm 147 verse 3. Being broken and poured out results in us humbling ourselves before God.
Once we are broken we can empty ourselves and allow the Spirit of God to fill us. We can then pour out in worship and be an effective vessel to demonstrate God’s love, goodness, and mercy. God allows us to be broken to rebuild us for his glory. Our brokenness is supposed to draw us to the presence of God as he is near. Too many times we tend to hind in shame or fear. Pride can easily cause us to miss his presence!
In Psalm 34 verse 18 brokenhearted in its Hebrew origin “nishbar lev”, the one with a broken heart, is referring to our inner life, our affections, mind, and will. We can submit these things to God when we are broken and poured out before him. Our inner life of thoughts and feeling is usually expressed in our actions. When we are inwardly shattered we need God’s divine help and deliverance. Hence why he is near, but we must pour out and allow him to fill us up. We will miss him if we are full of ourselves and everything else contrary to his word. A heart that is humbled at God’s displeasure for sin is tender and willing to bend to God’s will. Then, God “will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit”, Psalm 51 verse 9.
Unfortunately, it does take an actual heartbreak sometimes to get us into the state of brokenness. However we get there, God will be near. “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, Matthew 5 verse 3.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. 1 John 1:9
The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. Isaiah 57:15
My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the Lord, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word. Isaiah 66:2
What would have happened if Hezekiah didn’t have a lifestyle of prayer?
At 25 years old Hezekiah became the 13th king of Judah in Jerusalem. I imagined that to be a lot of pressure and responsibility at 25. He reigned 29 years. He followed King David’s examples and commandments God gave to Moses. He did what was pleasing in the sight of God. The books of 2 Kings 18-20, 2 Chronicles 29-32, and Isaiah 36-39 give an account of his reign over Judah. As I studied his life I asked myself, what if he never prayed? What if his lifestyle wasn’t on of prayer? He was clearly a man that feared the Lord and reverence the things of God.
“And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did”. 2 Kings 18:3
He destroyed the altars of false worship and idols (gods) the Israelites made for themselves. He even destroyed the “brazen serpent that Moses had made”, because the Israelites had developed the habit of sacrificing to it. They were living like pagans. They named it “Nehushtan” (The Old Serpent). Satan is the only Old serpent in the garden I can think of. This was obviously a terrible thing. Pagan practices had become their norm. Hezekiah had every right as the appointed king and servant of God to destroy these things and bring order back into the kingdom. He did it the way God instructed David and Moses. He reopened the House of The Lord, which his father had closed. He had the priest and Levites consecrate themselves and the House of the Lord. He restored proper worship and sacrifice.
“he trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him”. 2 Kings 18:5
Hezekiah was without a doubt a remarkable king because he feared the Lord (2 Kings 18:6-7). He had oppositions, but he was able to overcome them because God was with him. Four years into his reign a part of Israel, Samaria, was taken captive by the king of Assyria. This was “because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them”, (2 Kings 18:12). I believe the same thing happened to us when we refuse to obey the word of God. Satan captures us, and we become slaves of sin. Towards the end of Hezekiah’s reign, he became deathly ill. God sends the prophet Isaiah to let him know he will not recover from his illness, he is going to die. Can you imagine being Hezekiah at that point? Based on your current lifestyle how would you react to such news? I don’t know about you, but my heart would’ve dropped a little bit. I would be wondering what sin I committed to bring that upon myself. I hope my response would be prayer and trust in God.
Hezekiah did what he has always done during his reign, he prayed. “Then he turned his face to the fall, and prayed unto the LORD”, (2 Kings 20:2). He was a praying man. Whatever trials Hezekiah faced (Assyrian Kings, rebellious Israel) he responded by first seeking God through prayer. He also sought the prophet Isaiah to hear what the Lord had to say concerning Judah. In his prayer, Hezekiah reminded God of his relationship with him, how he was careful to obey him and did what was pleasing in his sight. Before Isaiah could leave God heard Hezekiah’s prayer and observed his tears. He instructed Isaiah to go back and tell him he heard his prayer. God promised to give him 15 more years, heal him, and deliver him from the Assyrian king, (2 Kings 20:4-6). Why would God examine Hezekiah’s tears? Our motives matter when we pray. God knows our heart. He knows our thoughts before we even have them. Hezekiah didn’t necessarily pray because he was afraid to die, he was concerned about bringing glory to God. He was focused on God’s promises. He knew his death wouldn’t bring glory to God and his enemy would win. He wanted God to fulfill his promises and prove his faithfulness. It’s powerful when we pray the will of God. He will answer. Our prayers should be to bring glory to God and fulfill his will. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts”, (James 4:3). James is reminding us if our motives are wrong when we pray we will not receive what we asked for. Our prayers shouldn’t be selfish prayers what will only bring us pleasure. God will not answer prayers that are disguised to fulfill unrighteous agendas.
What would we know of Hezekiah today had he not live a lifestyle pleasing to God? There’s no need to imagine, just read about some of the other kings during his lifetime. Because Hezekiah had a relationship with God, he could boldly go to him in prayer. He was always confident in God’s ability to deliver them. His complete trust in God made him confident. He was constantly seeking God for answers and direction, not just the day he found out he would be deathly ill. I believe he studied the word of God and knew what his will was. Therefore, he knew what kind of prayer to pray. He was faithful in keeping the instructions God gave them through Moses. He was a submitted king. I don’t think he was perfect and never did any wrong. I think he was intentional about doing what he knew God required of him. God answered him speedily because he prayed the will of God.
“Pray without ceasing”, 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Not only is prayer a means to communicate with God but it also helps strengthen our relationship with God. Hezekiah’s story encouraged me to restore order in my life wherever there’s a need for it. We can easily fool ourselves by our own judgment thinking we are doing enough or we’re where we ought to be. Every day I see things and I hear things that remind me I am not praying enough. I want to pray more than just one hour a day. I want to always pray the will of God and remind him of his promises. Answered prayer is powerful and a testimony unto God for his glory. I want to know more and more of God’s word to know what to pray when I pray. Like Hezekiah, I want to be a prayerful woman whose life reflects it for God’s glory alone. I want the Lord to be able to count on me to do what I know is right and pleasing in his sight. I don’t know about you, but I want to pray kingdom prayers that will get God’s attention. I want to pray about everything God gives me the authority to pray for. Hezekiah’s story could’ve ended with him dying from his illness had he not humbled himself and prayed.
I love to shop. I enjoy shopping. Whether or not I’m buying anything it’s just something I like doing. I enjoy it even when I’m shopping online. It’s spring, a lot of people, myself included, like to spring clean our closet. If you haven’t read 12 Fashion Staples for Your Closet you are doing yourself and closet a disservice. Before you go on a shopping spree or on a hunt for replacement pieces read it and find out why. Thank me later.
I believe there’s an art to shopping. One does not simply walk into a store and buy the very first thing your eyes land on. Unless you’ve been eying it for a while, it’s a must-have that’s on sale, or a once in a lifetime deal you won’t get anywhere else. I take my time to look around, find the sales or clearance section, look at prices, compare prices of various brands and retail stores. I take time to enjoy the different fashion and styles displayed for the season. I look at colors, patterns, fabrics, and the quality of the clothes (cheaper prices aren’t always worth it). I take in as much as I can, from how the racks are positioned to the set up of the store. Shopping is an experience! This sounds great when you’re shopping at your local mall, retail or thrift stores, right? It can be just as enjoyable online. It’s a matter of mindset. For me, online shopping is equally fun and enjoyable. Depending on your view of the internet world and shopping, online shopping can be an intimidating experience at first. Once you get the hang of it or a feel for it you’ll realize how easy and convenient it is.
Here are some tips from my online shopping experience to help you with yours.
Shop at a secured website
Know your measurements
Read the reviews
Know the company’s shipping terms
Know the company’s return policies
Look for coupon offers and discount codes
Set a budget
Shop at a secured website
You want to always shop at a website that will allow you to use a secure payment method. If several things appear to be out of the ordinary don’t trust the site. It will lessen your chances of identity theft and your funds getting jacked. Make sure the website is legitimate and secured. I like using PayPal as my payment method. It gives me buyers protection and protection against fraudulent activities. It’s also important to check the website’s reputation. You don’t want to shop somewhere that has terrible reviews or customer service. Make sure you can contact someone through email AND phone in case you face any issues while shopping or if there’s something wrong with something you purchased. You especially want to make sure you can speak to someone on the phone if the issue is with your money.
Know your measurements
Clothing sizes vary depending on clothing brand or merchant. It’s important to know your size, especially in centimeters and inches. The online store usually displays them as such instead of the expected small, medium, and large size. You can use a measuring tape to measure your bust, waist, hips, and inseam. If you’re not sure how exactly to do this there are YouTube video tutorials that can help you. You can also visit your local seamstress or tailor to figure this out. While some clothes are true to size others are not. You need to know your size to determine whether to stick to your exact size, buy a size down or buy a size up. THE SIZE CHART IS YOUR FRIEND! Please use it. It may vary slightly depending on the brand or company but is fairly the same overall. It’s a useful guide.
Read the reviews
Customer reviews in the online shopping world are gold. Take some time to read some. You’ll get a real perspective on whatever it is you’re interested in buying. Ads can be deceiving. Most buyers will include photos with their reviews which is even better. Look for reviews that include comments on the size, fit, and material quality of what you want to buy. It’ll help give you a better idea of how something will fit, if it’ll be true to size or if you’ll need to buy a size up or down. Remember ads and online model displays can be deceiving and hyped up so don’t just go off that alone.
Know the company’s shipping terms
A lot of online stores in the United States offers free shipping. Other stores, especially if your shipment is coming from overseas, charge a fair shipping fee. If shipping isn’t free your shipping price is usually based on the shipping option you choose, standard, express or overnight shipping. If shipping is free it’s always my option. Costly shipping is not worth it in my opinion if getting it later than sooner is the only downfall. The length of delivery is often based on the carriers the company uses. i.e. FedEx, UPS, USPS. It shouldn’t take a company more than 2-3 day to ship your package to you. Be sure to check if tracking is provided for you to track your package (s). Some carriers will require a signature or someone to be present at the time of delivery.
Know the company’s return policies
It crucial to know how, when, and if you can return or exchange what you purchase. You might not like what you purchase once you receive it or it might not fit properly. You want to be able to return it. Check the return policy before placing your order. Check how long you have to return things, how much it’ll cost you or if returns are free. You also want to check if you can make exchanges, get your money back or get store credit.
Look for coupons and discount codes
Coupons and discount codes will save you a lot of money on your overall purchase at checkout. Always check out the sales and markdown items. If you can get coupons and discount codes on top of whatever sales offered, it’s worth celebrating. Your bank account and husband will thank you after checkout.
Set a budget
You know your shopping habits and how often you shop. Unless you are a millionaire or have money to blow give yourself a budget. If you’re disciplined in your spending you won’t mind a budget. You want to be responsible with your money. It is easy to overspend and get carried away when your shopping online. It’s much easier than at a local store. It’s really like throwing it all in the bag. It’s not possible to feel the weight of everything you added to your cart. Treat yourself if you can but buy what you need first. A budget will help you smile when you click on your cart and not have to explain to your spouse where all these packages are coming from.
BONUS: sign up for emails and exclusive offers from your favorite stores and company. You will be among the first to know of special offers, discounts, and sales.
Three of my favorite online stores are ASOS.COM, SHEIN.COM, and LOLASHOETIQUE.COM. ASOS is especially great for high-quality clothing and designer’s brands at affordable prices. SHEIN has a lot of trendy clothing at some of the lowest prices in the market. While some of their clothes are exceptionally excellent quality material for the cost others not so much. Don’t expect Louis Vuitton quality material for an $8 dress.
I hope you enjoyed these hacks! If you have some of your own, please share them with me.
Make day to day dressing easier, fun, and enjoyable for yourself. Replace your “I have nothing to wear” in my closet with these 12 wardrobe staples.
I can not stress enough how important this is. Give some thought to your undergarment and avoid embarrassing fashion crisis. The wrong kind of undergarment can ruin your outfit. Things like a T-shirt bra, versatile bra, the right kind of underwear, a full body slip, and shapers are essentials in a woman’s closet. Proper undergarments are the foundation of a great outfit and feeling confident in your look. I know you love your striped Victoria Secrets bra but try not to wear it underneath your crispy white tee. I have done this. Cringe! Embarrassing.
A LITTLE BLACK DRESS (MODEST BLACK DRESS)
Every woman should have a LBD. It is chic on its own or can be fun with a couple of accessories. It’s a perfect go-to for any occasion. Find one that compliments your figure.
A TAILORED BLAZER
A tailored blazer is great inside and outside of the office. It’s flattering on any size or silhouette. It’s perfect during the cool springs or over a nice cocktail dress.
A BLACK PENCIL SKIRT
A black pencil skirt works well for a quick business formal or casual, and Sunday evening service look. You can dress it down with a chic striped shirt or tee shirt. You can add a blazer for a more sophisticated look.
A WHITE TEE
You can’t go wrong with a nice white T-shirt. It is versatile. You can wear it as is, with a trendy skirt, layer it, or throw a leopard scarf over it. It’s perfect with an oversized or plaid blazer.
A MIDI SKIRT
A midi skirt is very flattering, womanly, and modest. It’s perfect for church and the workplace. I have long legs and honestly think I look the best in midi skirts. It’s very flattering to my long legs.
THE PERFECT JEAN
Every woman needs a couple of flattering jeans. They’re great for your day to day schedule, grocery store runs, casual outings, and semi-formal wear.
A CLASSIC WHITE SHIRT
The possibilities are endless! Whether it’s for the office, a day around town, or your favorite Sunday skirt, a classic white shirt adds simple elegance.
A TRENCH COAT
Trench coats are a classic. You can wear it over just about anything, look and feel comfortable. It’s an investment.
AN EVENING BAG
You don’t NEED a closet full of purses if you have the right kind of purses. A chic handbag or clutch is great to have. It’s perfect for your evening events and girls’ night outs.
You can still look chic or “dressed up” in a nice pair of ballet flats. They great for long days. You can transition from day to night in them. They will look good with your jeans and button-down blouses.
DAY TO NIGHT HEELS
A pair of neutral hue heels is a must-have. It could be black, grey, or nude. Get yourself some classic pumps, strappy heels or sandals, or some ankle boots you can transition from a daytime look to night time wear.
I love the book of Proverbs in the Bible. It’s like “Life Principles 101”. I made it a goal back in college to read it every year. This year on the Bible app, I found a plan that allows me to read it in a loop for the entire year. I had four more days until I gave birth to you, my firstborn. I was super excited. The anticipation to meet you was nerve-racking. Anytime I said “my son” or referred to you, it reminded me of Lady Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs. I felt like I was about to drop some wisdom or say something of importance to you. Being able to say “my son” really warms my heart and make me smile. You are my miracle from God. The thought gave me an idea to write a letter to you using the “My Son” sayings I read in the book of Proverbs. This won’t mean much to you now as a newborn baby, but I hope you come across it later in life and it serves you well.
Listen when your father corrects you, and don’t neglect my instructions.
Ignore the temptations of bad companions.
Don’t waste time listening to them.
Take to heart the counsel I’m giving you.
You will live a long life.
Don’t be angry when God corrects you.
God loves you.
Hold on to common sense and discernment.
You will have a long, good life.
Listen carefully to my wisdom and wise counsel.
Stay away from immoral and promiscuous women.
Find a wife.
Don’t make promises impulsively.
Follow your father’s advice and consider my teachings.
Carefully treasure my advice.
Don’t stop listening to instruction, you need knowledge.
When your heart becomes wise, my heart will rejoice.
Wisdom will point your life in the right direction.
The knowledge of wisdom is good for your soul.
It will give you hope and a bright future.
Fear God, don’t be defiant, your life could turn upside down.
Find wisdom, it’ll make me glad.
Don’t waste time on women, and alcohol.
Don’t waste your treasures.
Speak up for the voiceless.
Help the poor and helpless.
Do not withhold good when it is in your power to do so.
Son of my womb.
Son of my vows.
Start with God.
Bow down before God.
That is the beginning of true knowledge and wisdom.
Life on earth is short. One day each one of our lives will come to an end. As written in the Bible, we’re a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Our lives are frail and not one of us know our end. We don’t have the slightest idea when our spirit will return to God and our bodies back to dust. I encourage you not to wait until it is too late or no longer matters to express love, care about others, and show kindness. Be concern now. Love even when it’s not Valentine’s Day or considered love month. Don’t get caught up being bitter, prideful, petty, holding grudges, bickering, or being selfish. Now is the time to show concern and pray. Share your love now when others can receive it. Be intentional about loving.
Share something in the comment section that reminds you of love or reminds you to love.
Your favorite verse on love
Your favorite song of love
An act of love
Your thoughts on love
Your Valentine’s Day
One of my favorite songs of love is “Forever Yours” by Smokie Norful.
Deceitful hearts blind them from seeing true love.
The love I know gave sight to the blind.
He sees all things.
God, is the love I know.
So, you see…
Love cannot be blind.
Love saw me when I believed love was blind.
Love saw me when I believe love hurt.
Love saw me when I couldn’t love myself.
I was so far from the truth, blinded by disappointments, hurt, and heartbreak.
My emotions and what I chose to believe made me blind to love.
Rejection hurt, lies hurt, hurt people hurt other people, manipulations hurt, deceit hurt, anger, and bitterness hurt.
Love, love doesn’t hurt. Love isn’t blind.
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love is humble.
God is love, love cannot be blind.
The thoughts of a younger me after finding love for the very first time. I found love in Jesus. It took getting my heart broken to know God is love. That doesn’t have to be your story. Struggling to deal with my broken heart, confused about the true meaning of love, in my quest to find comfort no one was able to offer me, I discovered 1 John 4 verse 8: “but anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love”. Truth be told, I didn’t know God. That scripture captured my attention and I became determined to know who God was. I wanted to find love. If he is love as the scripture said, I would find it once I find him. The more I knew God the more I understood love. I realized searching for love in all the wrong places and people. I searched for romantic love, but God’s unconditional love was what I needed.
My parents did the best they could as parents to raise me. They did everything they knew to the best of their abilities but even their love (Storge) was not enough for me. I gave myself to romantic love (Eros). Too young, too soon. I was left at my darkest. It was never the will of God for me. Romantic love is great when it’s done right and shared with a deserving person. In the present, I can say I am happily married and can experience romantic love the way God intended. I’m not at all implying my marriage is perfect or easy but I know I chose to share my love with someone who deserves it. He knows God and understands love. While I am content with my husband’s love, it could never replace the love of God. We are growing in love. Our love would be weak and meaningless if God wasn’t our main source of love.
I found God searching for love, and unconditional love in God. He is the beginning and author of familial love, brotherly love, and even romantic love. To manifest his love toward us, God wrapped himself in flesh as Jesus to die for us (1 John 4:9). Because of his love I can love myself, my family, my friends, and community. Love came down to rescue me. He sacrificed himself so I can have eternal life (John 3:16). His love is selfless and sacrificial. A person can give without loving but it is impossible to and not give. Because God is love, love is patient, love is kind, love is humble, love forgives, love gives, love keeps no record of wrong, and love is not easily angered. There is no greater love than the love of God (John 15:13). “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”, Romans 5 verse 8. There are so many circumstances that can change or get in the way of romantic, familial, and brotherly love. Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).
While you are out enjoying Love Month and Valentine’s Day, don’t forget the greatest love, God’s unconditional love.
Many worldwide consider the month of February as the “Month of Love” or “Love Month”. I always viewed it as just another month because I want to be shown love on a consistent basis, not just when February comes around. I am here for the celebration though, I’m not mad at it. I celebrate Valentine’s Day. I love when I receive roses, chocolate, or a thoughtful gift. I enjoy dressing up and going on a nice date. However, I don’t restrict or bind love to this one month or day of celebration. I am not at all suggesting that’s what others do. I’m not mad at anyone who does. When my husband and I were just courting he would surprise me in the most unexpected ways. It was our first Valentine’s Day and I wasn’t expecting anything. He had the second key to my car. I woke up that morning and found my car washed and cleaned, the most beautiful dozens of red roses, a nice card he wrote in, and my favorite chocolate., and a full tank of gas. I woke up feeling super spoiled. I loved every minute of it. What was special about it wasn’t the fact that he showered me with so many gifts in one day or that it was on Valentine’s Day, it was the fact that this was a regular habit of his. He always found a way to surprise me and didn’t always have to spend any money either. There was a huge my size teddy bear along with the other gifts that I did not care for. A lot of women I know love them, but I am not fond of teddy bears or stuffed animals at all. I had to find a kind way to communicate to him my dislike for them and balloons to avoid getting more in the future. Of course, I did this after I expressed my appreciation for him and what he did. Can you imagine how disappointed and upset I would have been if my hope for love and expectations of him was placed in that one day of celebration?
So, let us talk about love. I think it’s safe to say love is important to us all in some way, shape, or form. The problem is many of us are confused about love, what it is, how to love or be loved. Some people might say they have never experienced real love. While many others are stuck fearing love.
An intense feeling of deep affection
A person or thing that one loves
Sexual passion or desire
Deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone
Very strong liking
The definition of love and related is very interesting. It will all sound strange if one doesn’t know or understand that there are different forms of love. Ancient philosophers identified four forms of love: Storge, Philio, Eros, and Agape.
Loyalty to one’s family, friends, and community which requires virtue and familiarity.
EROS: romantic, passionate love.
Sensual desires or longing felt for another person.
AGAPE: a pure type of love, divine love.
The love of God for humanity.
The Bible mentions only two of the forms of love identified by philosophers. We can find “AGAPE” and “PHILIO” in the New Testament portion of the Bible. Agape love is described as unconditional, selfless, and charitable. Jesus is the prime example of agape love. It’s the kind of love Christians aspire to have for one another. Especially for a person that is an enemy. Philio love is described as “brotherly love”. It’s our human responsibility for one another. Our delightful commitment and loyalty to our family, friends, church, and community.
The Bible teaches us God is love (1 John 4:8). We can’t have agape or philio love apart from God. Love comes from God and he is the source of love. Through Christ, we can have an unconditional love for others. That includes love for ourselves and people we are not fond of. Jesus told us to love our enemies, bless those that curse us, do good to those that hate us, and pray for those that use us (Matthew 5:43-48). When we are truly saved we can not love just the people who love us or make us feel good. That is what the world does. Unconditional and brotherly love requires us to be like Christ. Jesus made it clear in Mark 12 verse 28 to 34, that we must love others the way we love ourselves. He said it’s the second most important commandment. The first being loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul explained to us if we don’t have love we have nothing. It doesn’t matter what we do, without love it is meaningless. Love is the greatest. His explanation helps us to understand the nature of love. John, in 1 John 4 verse 17 to 11, reminds us to continue to love one another because love comes from God. If we cannot love other people, then we don’t really know God. He went on to say, real love is not us loving God but God’s sacrifice of himself to take away our sins. For that reason, we must love others.
What does one do when you pray, and pray, and pray and cry tears like you never had before and all you hear from the Lord is “Patient Endurance”?
You Endure and patiently wait on God.
I don’t believe there was anything that could have prepared me enough for how my year was going to transition from the year of 2016 to the year of 2017. I was not ready for the loss and grief I was going to face. All on top of what I had already lost during the year. I never imagined I would come face to face with anxiety again. I blogged about being anxious back in college here, “Anxious?”. Click on the link if you want to read it. I could not fathom the humiliation I was going to feel, the fears that would overwhelm me, or the ugliness God still had to uproot from my heart. I knew I was in a rough season. I felt like an unexpected storm had caught me by complete surprise. I was so uncomfortable I did not get much rest. In my attempt to look for an exit out of my troubles I panicked realizing there wasn’t a way out. I had to go through to get through the storm. All along God’s plan was to strengthen me and fill me with wisdom through my troubles. Through God’s silence, I learned to endure and trust him despite how I felt.
My husband got married May 20, 2016. He is a better man than I ever imagined I would be bless with as my husband. Our troubles haven’t change that fact. We were off to a great start. Losing everything and having only God, and one another to hold on to in the end brought us closer. It was the catalyst of us truly becoming one and operating as a team. Within just one year of marriage things got worse before they got better. However, God was in control. I loss my job while we were still on our honeymoon. I was promoted and received a raise the week before our wedding. It just did not make sense to me. We started our marriage one income, but we needed both. I was bummed, and finding a decent job with a good pay after that was the ultimate struggle. My husband suggested we pray and he tried to be uplifting about the situation. A few months later while we were driving home from church we found out my husband’s license had been suspended. An officer pulled us over and made us aware of our predicament. We had a car full of children we normally pick up for church. These children were terrified, especially because of what they were used to seeing in the neighborhood they lived in. They thought for sure we were all going to jail. The officer looked at us and said you guys look like good individuals doing something positive in the community, I’m not going to mess you guys up or give you any more financial troubles to deal with. I knew that was the Lord stepping in. He gave my husband instructions to follow to fix the issue and reinstate his license. It turned out he had some traffic light tickets we weren’t aware of that went unpaid, resulting in his license being suspended. A few weeks later we received a letter informing us my license would be suspended if I didn’t pay the amount listed including late fees by the given deadline. It was about two days before the suspension date. It turned out I had a traffic light ticket that went unpaid. We didn’t know because it was send to my old address and never forwarded to us. I thought someone out there was trying to play a sick joke on us. I wondered if maybe God was punishing us for any unconfessed sin. Thankfully that is not how God operate. If that wasn’t enough, by the time the year was over we accumulated a lot of medical debt going to the ER for different health issues. Neither one of us had health insurance. I already had poor credit from student loans. My husband did his best and worked hard, but it just wasn’t enough. Our bills and needs were far greater than our income. Just when I thought I had found a dream job I loss it due to some unfortunate events. We ended the year facing an eviction. We paid late, and our landlord showed no mercy. By January 10th, 2017 our landlord wanted us out. Not long after our car was repossessed. I had never lost so much in my entire life. I was scared and devastated. I felt hurt, low, broken, and humiliated. It took me a while to realize how much more difficult our circumstance must have been for my husband as a man. Our troubles may appear to be nothing and bearable compared to what others go through, but it was hard for us. It was hard especially for me, but I learned humility on a whole another level in the process. Thankfully we had friends that opened their home to us as they felt led by God to do some. It was a humbling experience.
I knew I had to pray then more than ever before and trust God if we were going to make it through. I felt weak and weary, but church and the work of God was still a priority for us. I began to study more deeply parts of Abraham’s life, the book of Job, and the book of Hebrews. Through that and prayer, God encouraged and strengthened me. I managed to keep it together openly but privately I cried non-stop. I cried tears I didn’t even know I had in me to cry. It wasn’t because I was pretending to be okay. I was simply determined to glorify God no matter what and not complain to anyone. Many times, my prayers were just hot burning tears as I didn’t know what else to say to God. I felt like David did in many of his Psalms. “I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: my eyes fail while I wait for my God”, Psalms 69 verse 3. “And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily”, Psalms 69 verse 17. “Reproach has broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I look for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none”, Psalms 69 verse 20. “Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily”, Psalms 83 verse 3. “Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayers; and attend to the voice of my supplications”, Psalms 86 verse 6. Also like David, I was determined to “praise the name of God with a son, and magnify him with thanksgiving” (Psalms 69:30).
While I was driving one day I had a panic attack and almost got into an accident. I was so overwhelmed with fears and anxiety. I was losing control of my thoughts and emotions. I felt the knots of anxiety building up in my stomach. As I was shaking with fear, I thought to myself, I am falling apart God, where are you? Psalms 61 verse two immediately came to my mind, “from the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I”. I drove to one of my husband and I favorite places to go. A humongous rock facing the ocean. I sat on the rock, staring at the ocean, I told God I had nothing else to say I just wanted to hear him. I imagined the humongous rock I sat on to be the Lord and the ocean before me to be all my troubles. Tears streamed down my eyes and I felt the presence of God with me. I thought to myself, Lord you are greater than this vast ocean before me, I trust you. It came to my mind to read the book of Hebrews. As I read it the Lord ministered to me. After reading I mediated on what I had read. The words “Patient Endurance” came to my mind. God reminded me of faith and endurance (Hebrews 6:12). Throughout the book, there was those who suffered and went through, by faith they endured and received God’s promise. They learned patience and obedience from the things they suffered. They endured. God had me focused on Hebrews 10:36 “patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he promised”. By faith Abel’s sacrificed, Enoch was taken by God, Noah built that boat, Abraham obeyed God when called and waited patiently, Gideon, David, Samuel and all the prophets, and so many others endured and receive the promise of God. I had to activate my faith. I had to continue hoping. I needed to trust God and keep moving forward. It wasn’t about what we were going through. God had a greater purpose for our troubles. I could never in my right mind say I lost as much as Job or more than Job. Our losses had me feeling like Job, but I couldn’t have imagined being in his shoes. By the grace of God, we had people who cared about us and encouraged us. Job’s wife was terrible, she advised him to curse God. His friends weren’t any better. In their attempt to comfort him they blamed him for his suffering and accused him to have sinned to be suffering in such a manner. One even though his punishment wasn’t harsh enough. The word described Job as “perfect and upright, and one that feared God”, yet it was in God’s will to allow him to suffer. Despite everything Job still hoped in God. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him”, Job 13 verse 15.
I remembered receiving a phone call one day from someone who shared with me a vision God gave her concerning my husband and I. she wasn’t sure when exactly to share it with us but figured when she did was the right time. She told me while she was in prayer God had her interceding on our behalf. She explained to me, “a vision of you and Justin on a roller coaster came to me. You guys were side by side going with the ride wherever it went. Then I heard a voice saying, “I am the operator, soon this ride is coming to a stop”. Then the two of you were at a table feasting and I heard the scripture “thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies””. She said whatever is going on, God is in control. I was encouraged but I didn’t know what to say. I asked God to help me to have faith like Abraham did. God called him from among everything he knew and was familiar with to a place he would show him (Genesis 12). Abraham, known as Abram at the time, obeyed. God never gave him specific details or told him exactly where he was taking him. He simply told Abram he would show him and he blindly trusted God. God took him through so much from that point on just to bless him. I could only say I trust you God and reminded myself “Patient Endurance”.
“Bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, or anger”.
Despite our circumstance, troubles, and struggles God wanted us to endure. He wanted us to persevere through them. His plan was for us to take heart and last through it all. No matter how long it took for things to get better, we had to be patient and trust God. There was no easy or quick way out. He never allowed more than we could handle. He gave us the strength we needed to not faint. We had him t lean on and one another to hold on to. I had made up my mind to stop crying, complaining to God, and feeling sorry for myself. I wanted to be better and allow God to strengthen us and our marriage. I was choosing to no longer be in distress, unpleasant, or continue having a cast down spirit. I woke up every day and intentionally put on the garment of praise. I was going to be thankful and praise God despite how I felt. I was not going to let the spirit of heaviness keep me down. I began to see God in my weaknesses; how he was molding me and changing me. I was able to thank God for my pain, my troubles, and the things he brought out of me through what we went through. I was thankful for the wisdom God poured into me from my troubles. I was humbled God trusted us with trouble and gave us the strength to endure. In the end, we were still standing. I didn’t give up even when I wanted to. God made me stronger and wiser. My praise increased. My worship went deeper. I gained some things in Christ I can’t even put into words. Before we knew it, things got better. We ended the year of 2017 in victory. Our circumstance didn’t destroy us nor did the enemy triumph over us. I give God all the glory!
“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t”.
Hebrews 12:3 “Think of all the hostility he (Jesus) endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up”. Focus on the things that will last. Run with endurance and keep your eyes on Jesus. Troubles don’t last always. If Jesus is in your boat, it won’t be shipwrecked. There is a calm after the storm.