Chosen Vessels

“God, I thank you that I am a chosen vessel!” -Cyvonne Davy

I thank God that I’m a chosen vessel. I was adopted and accepted by God. If you don’t know who He is, His name is JESUS. He picked me. He chose me. I was selected among several others by God. I’m a vessel for God’s Spirit and to carry out his purpose. I am validated in Him. I am who God says I am. For these reasons I am purpose driven. When you realize you were hand-picked by Christ you will not understand. This interview with founder and CEO of Chosen Vessels Apparel touched me, blessed me, and encouraged me! Faint Adams is beautiful, driven, funny, and a boss lady. She is one of the many hardworking women that I am glad to know and introduced to you through this interview. I learned a lot. Enough from me, let us get to why you’re here.

What is Chosen Vessels?

Chosen Vessels Apparel is a Christian Lifestyle brand that has a host of apparel such as t-shirts, hats, totes, etc. Chosen Vessels is a brand that can be worn by people of all ages. It is a brand that believes you can love God and be stylish through your apparel.

What do you believe and how has it influenced Chosen Vessels?

I believe that God gives everyone gifts and talents. It’s up to us, however, to cultivate them. Chosen Vessels is a “Christian” lifestyle brand and everything we put out is meant to make that statement. Whenever you see a CVA shirt, you will know that we strive to spread the love of God in everything we print. 

What was the first shirt you ever made? How do you feel about it now?

The first shirt I ever made was a shirt for Christmas when I was about 8 years old. It was something my mother and I would do for the holidays with her grand-kids and myself. I remember it like yesterday; making a shirt for my birthday using puffy paint and making a shirt for Father’s Day for my dad. Since my birthday typically falls in close proximity to Father’s Day, I would find joy in being able to create shirts for him as a gift. Going to Michael’s, Joann’s Fabric and Hobby Lobby always excited me and I can remember the feeling of purchasing hot glue guns, fabric and other crafting supplies. I never imagined that was God cultivating the gifts in me that would one day become my source of income. As far as the first Christian shirt, that was Acts 2:38. What inspired me was wanting to create a witnessing tool on my job.

How do you decide what to sell online or in retail?

Demographics play a huge role into deciding what to sell. Shirts that may be trendy and on high demand in one area, might not be so in another. For instance, in Michigan it begins to cool down around April. That is not the case in Florida. When customers are asking for hoodies there, it make sense to provide them for customers in cooler climates versus in retail in Florida where it is hot during that same time of the year. Additionally, some of our apparel does better in person via vendor opportunities than they do online. For this reason, we’ll take more of those items that we know need to be seen in person in order for the vision to be seen by consumers.

How do you decide what items to incorporate into a line?

Right now, we have about 25 shirt graphics/designs waiting to be released. The majority of our shirt designs come during a church sermon, while reading the bible, or from a thought that I am having. I have come to realize that just because you get an idea, does not necessarily mean that it needs to be released right then. You must truly be willing to figure out what it means for God’s people and when to release it. Ultimately Chosen Vessels is a ministry and we prepare our designs the same as any other minister would decide what sermon to deliver.

What is your strongest truth?

My strongest truth is that if it goes against what you believe and if it goes against God’s word, DON’T DO IT! The temporary reward or gratification may seem to be astounding and too hard to pass up, but if God has something for you, you’ll NEVER have to compromise your beliefs nor His word to receive it.

What are the best shoes to wear with a Chosen Vessels shirt?

That really depends on your style. Believe it or not, I am a sneaker-head, so I’ll match mine with a good pair of J’s. The beautiful thing about our shirts is the versatility. You can literally take the same shirt and pair it with sneakers one day, flip flops the next and then heels, a tulle skirt and a blazer the next. We love to see how our customers wear our shirts based off their own style and personality.

How much power does your customers have?

Hopefully they have that HOLY GHOST POWER!!!! LOL just kidding. I listen to their suggestions and watch the latest trends. There have been times when they’ve given us great suggestions that we incorporated into our designs. What I have found to be true though is that less is more, and you can’t please everyone. So, although we would love to take everything into consideration, we aren’t able to. We do love feedback! It helps us to see if we’ve grown, what we can improve and what their thoughts are concerning the brand.

What differentiates Chosen Vessels from competition?

Firstly, I want to bust a myth. People say if you’re so focused on yourself and your brand, you won’t have time to focus on the competition. I completely disagree. Paying attention to your competition can show you what NOT to do. The apparel business is a huge market and the “Christian” apparel business is huge. Most people and brands use “Christian” lightly and loosely. However, we strive to show in our brand that our God has a name, Jesus, and we’ll use that anytime we can. Like I said before, our shirts make statements and end up being great witnessing tools. For us, it’s not just about money, it’s genuinely about soul winning and witnessing. We love hearing how people have worn our shirts and had an opportunity opened up to talk about the scripture or the saying. Many times, friends have gotten baptized after discussing the shirt or strangers will approach people while working out and ask questions, which is what we want happening. This company literally started because the company we were working with told us we had to quit converting people; but that’s our goal. Witnessing can be hard for some people, so when we hear them say they have used our shirts as a conversation starter and gained the boldness they’ve been desiring, it makes everything worth it. We do what we do for the Kingdom of God, not for ourselves. You don’t have to compromise or collaborate with conflicting values/beliefs to be successful.

How committed are you?

I’m committed so much and love the brand so much that I sacrificed and left my job three months ago to run the business full time. We’re currently wrapping up a three-week summer tour. Our goal was to put the brand in front of as many people as possible.

Who can wear Chosen Vessels?

Anyone who loves God and loves being stylish can wear Chosen Vessels.

Tell us something about your background?

I will tell you something quirky about me: I am a very funny, easy going person BUT I hate being up front in the limelight. I am a behind the scenes person. However, this tour has stretched me outside of my comfort zone. I talked to people for as long as they wanted, but I got nervous the more people found out that I am the owner of the company.

How comfortable are you working with models to build your brand?

I am extremely comfortable working with models. Currently, Chosen Vessels utilizes a group of individuals who have been with the company for several years as models and brand ambassadors. We have used models in various social media posts, stories as well as brand/company videos and photographs.

14) What is the most difficult aspect of being an entrepreneur?

The most difficult aspect is being realistic and being a Saint. We’re not just entrepreneurs or “Christian” entrepreneurs. As a Saint, you might be asked to do things that are against what you believe. Learning how to say no was difficult but extremely necessary. Another difficulty is the fact that social media makes it look super easy, but they don’t see all the late nights and early mornings. Nor do they see the sacrifices. There are so many elements that go into it such as maintaining your spirituality, prayer life, putting each area of your life in its proper place. You MUST be a great manager of your time so that you have time for yourself, your family, and sticking to and maintaining your values despite what other companies may be doing. Many people think being an entrepreneur is simply owning a business. Starting a business is easy, sustaining and maintaining it is an entirely different thing. I’ve learned that you must give people the grace NOT to believe in you. Not everyone is a visionary and that is okay. They might not be equipped to handle your vision. Many entrepreneurs say you must be able keep going even when the excitement is no longer there. There are times where you might not get paid, but God always provides. Often He’ll send someone at the right time to offer an encouraging word that will help you see your “why” and keep going. Being an entrepreneur has increased my faith because it has taught me the true meaning of daily bread.

What should we look forward to from Chosen Vessels?

We just completed our first mini tour which is the kickoff to our brand expansion efforts. We’re also gearing up to launch our fall line in the next month or so.

I truly hope this encourages someone to keep going and continue pressing for their vision. I had my website up for an ENTIRE YEAR before I made my first online sale. NOW there are days where we’ll do 70-75 orders in one day. That aren’t itemized orders, they’re grouped orders. If we itemize them, it would come out to be much more. Entrepreneurship is NOT easy by any means, but it is SO worth it. No one will believe in your vision more than you.

Be sure to follow Faint Adams on Instagram (@ceofaint & @chosenvesselsinc) and Facebook. Subscribe via email for the latest changes, new releases, exclusive offers, sales and more. You don’t want to miss any of it. Chosen Vessels is looking forward to being in Tennessee this October and in California in November. Stay connected so you don’t miss the next tour to your city and state or one nearby.

IMG_8981

ChosenVesselsApparel.com

#HandPickedByChrist

Faith and Beauty – Felicia Crowe, SHIFRA Beauty

“Mirror, mirror, mirror on the wall

Tellin’ those lies, pointing out your flaws

That isn’t who you are

That isn’t who you are” -King & Country

If we’re all honest we can admit we have all had moments in our lives where we felt less than beautiful. That moment for me was while I was pregnant and after I gave birth to my son. I struggled with feeling beautiful. I gained so much weight. I dreaded stepping on the scale during my doctor visits. My skin broke out and was discolored on certain parts of my body. I can’t recall right now what condition my doctor said it was, but he promise it would eventually go away after I give birth. The stretch marks that showed up at the very end of my pregnancy was icing on the cake. While I was grateful and blessed to be pregnant my self-esteem went down the drain. I love my son and would do it all over again. I couldn’t imagine not waking up to that big bright beautiful smile he greets me with every morning. However, the struggle was too real. I faced confidence struggle I never imagined I would experience in my life. I kept telling myself I had 8 weeks to get back to “normal”. I was in for a surprise. I did not go back to my pre-pregnancy weight, and the process back to “normal” was a lot slower than I wanted to have patience for. The truth of the matter is my body would never be what it was before and that is okay. It’s a new kind of beautiful. It experienced changes that were permanent, but they serve as a reminder of one of the most beautiful processes in life. While others thought I looked fine I felt fat and unattractive. I assumed my husband would feel the same way, and others would have no mercy when they blurted out how “huge” I became. My husband was beyond sweet in reminding me I am beautiful, and I should be patient and kind with myself. As soon as I looked in the mirror he knew what was about to happen and would tell me to leave myself alone. I even caught him privately scolding one of my little brothers after he continued to tell me how I still looked pregnant. My brother meant no harm and I knew that. I was still hurt by it though. My husband able to see the hurt on my face each time my brother would say that. I remember him telling me, “babe you’re a mom, your body has been through a lot, you gave birth to our son, that’s beautiful, you should look at yourself and be proud of that”. I’m sure you can imagine how emotional I was. He was right. I shift my focus and changed my thinking. My son by far is one of my greatest blessing and miracle but you know what, like any other woman I have fears and insecurities. I now love and appreciate my new body. I’m focused on being fit and healthy and being the mommy Ozi needs. I have been granted one of the best honors in life. Who God says I am is far more important than my cruel feelings. “Godfidence” (confidence in Jesus) is the best form of confidence.

“Charm is deceptive and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.” -Provers 31:30

It was an honor to interview founder and owner of SHIFRA beauty, First lady Felicia Crowe. SHIFRA believes in “Preserving Live and Beauty”. SHIFRA is about making a difference; not only in preserving our natural beauty but also in the life of others. One dollar from every item sold will go to New Beginnings, a non-profit adoption program. SHIFRA is not only an investment in yourself, it’s an investment that will help make a difference in someone else’s life. That is beautiful!

Lady Crowe is beautiful inside and out. I am glad to have her a guest for this faith and beauty blog. Her transparency is relatable. You will laugh and be blessed.

image1

1) What is SHIFRA?

“SHIFRA is an all-natural skin care line.”

We need more of that in a world driven by artificial things.

2) How do you define beauty?

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think everyone sees beauty in their own way. I see beauty in almost everything. I cried during the Avatar ride at Disney because it was so overwhelming beautiful to me.”

This is hilarious to me. I’m imaging seeing your crying face on a ride.

3) What beauty standards do you live by that are from the Bible?

“The Proverbs 31:30 Scripture comes to mind “beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised”. It reminds me to not get so caught up in my outward appearance. Sometimes the pressure to make myself beautiful by the worlds standards conflicts with what God is asking of me. The praise you get from being “beautiful” will fade when your looks fade but what God sees as worthy to be praised is forever.”

I agree and there is so much that’s conflicting.

4) What is in your purse right now or beauty bag?

“Let’s take a look in my beauty bag that is currently located at the bottom of my diaper bag under all the extra outfits, diapers, bottles and snacks. I have SHIFRA’S Manuka Honey Lip Balm, Rose Mint Lip Oil, and a travel size Rose Water Face Mist (obviously *winks*). other items include eyelash curler, clear brow and eyelash gel, mirror and tweezers.”

This is funny to me because I carry around my son’s diaper bag with some of my belongings. Things go missing quick. I love the lip oil and hand cream!

5) Why was it important for you to do a natural beauty line?

“Crafting natural products just feels right! When you have a few family members diagnosed with the evil C word it makes you more conscious of the toxins you put in your body every day.”

I appreciate people with the gift and passion to create less toxic beauty products.

6) How do you handle stress?

“Small stress: I take deep breaths (in through the nose out through the mouth) Major stress: I don’t get often because I do this often…Worship!! Not patty-cake worship but the kind of worship that transcends you to the feet of Jesus. You just lay there for a while and It all becomes so unimportant in His presence.”

Yes, and Amen! Worship and prayer is the best stress reliever. A lasting one at that.

7) Why do women need SHIFRA?

“The skin is the biggest Organ we have. We must take care of it and SHIFRA provides natural God given care for all of your skin needs.”

Come to think of it, I don’t think too many people remember the skin is an organ. It would make a worlds difference in how we choose to protect and take care of it.

8) How do you showcase beauty?

“I walk in purpose knowing I am a daughter of the king and when people look at me I want them to see through me and see Jesus. The joy, the love and the mercy. That’s a beauty I don’t mind showing off.”

“I walk in purpose”… I love that!

9) What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear beauty?

“My children.”

This warms my heart and of course, I’m thinking of my sweet little Ozi.

10) What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

“That I was the perfect wife and mother. Even though I know I’m far from perfect it was still amazing to hear “

You are a great mom and wife.

11) How do you feel when people tell you that you’re beautiful?

“I feel surprised! Like ‘who…me’?! lol.”

Lol! It is true others tend to see us far more beautiful than we view ourselves.

12) What do you want women to feel when they use SHIFRA’s products?

“I want them to feel a difference in their skin. I want them to feel like they are glowing.”

I do feel a difference and feel good I’m making healthier choices for my skin.

13) What is your favorite SHIFRA’s product?

“That’s a tough one. I would have to say the Radiant Face Oil. It has made a world of difference for my face that started to lack luster.”

I need to try that one. It hard to find the right products that don’t dry out my face or cause a breakout.

14) Do you like the way you look? How does SHIFRA help with that?

“After having three children via C-section and in my 30s I honestly struggle with feeling confident in my looks but my husband constantly tells me how beautiful I am and that really pushes me to not give up on my appearance. SHIFRA is a whole skin care line that pampers your skin with goodness so you can’t help but feel better After using it. The Honeycomb body wash makes me feel 20 again!!”

I don’t think I need to go into details about how much I felt this and can relate.

15) What do you think it means when people say that beauty comes from the inside?

“Love, Joy and Peace aren’t necessarily tangible so when people see it manifest outwardly they are attracted to the beauty that can only come from within.”

I agree true beauty can only come from within.

This interview was beautiful and refreshing. Be sure to follow SHIFRA Beauty on Instagram, @Shifra_beauty. Purchases can be made at shifrabeauty.com. Thank you, First Lady Crowe, for taking the time to answer these question and, sharing your thoughts on faith and beauty. For more information and further questions email SHIFRA at shifrabeauty@gmail.com.

Almost everything in its right is beautiful to the appropriate set of eyes. Beauty is often equated to attractiveness. However, it is so much more than that. It’s class, grace, and elegance. True beauty is not in outer appearance. It’s not expensive clothes or costly hair groomings. Physical beauty ultimately fades away. As the word of God put it, we are frail. Here today, gone tomorrow and forgotten. It doesn’t matter how well we dress and present ourselves if our spirit is nasty. It doesn’t matter how beautiful we deem ourselves if our soul is filthy or Godless. True beauty should reflect Christ image and likeness within us. True beauty is the mind of Christ in us. It can be seen in those that fear the Lord.

“Charm is deceptive and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.” -Proverbs 31:30

Who are you apart from your physical health and beauty? If your beauty diminishes, will you fade away along with it?

Untitled Design (1)

Share Your Love

LOVE

 

 

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.

https://youtu.be/1V8y2qLuaHA

Finding Love

I’ve heard them say that love is blind.

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.

Love forgives.

Love heals.

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.

 

The Adams
The Adams. Photo captured by Life With The Crooks Photography lifewiththecrooks.com. Dress and Bow tie made by Kylia Campbell Designs, LLC kyliacampbell.com

2 Forms of Love Mentioned in The Bible

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?

JOHN 3

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.

 

LOVE DEFINED

  • An intense feeling of deep affection
  • A person or thing that one loves
  • Sexual passion or desire
  • Deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone

RELATED WORDS

  • Adoration
  • Very strong liking
  • Affection
  • Appreciation
  • Delight
  • Emotion
  • Zeal
  • Fond
  • Infatuation
  • Enchantment
  • Lust
  • Worship
  • Yearning
  • Weakness

 

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.

  1. STORGE: essential, familial love, natural affection.
    1. The love of a parent(s) for their child.
  2. PHILIO: friendly virtuous love.
    1. Loyalty to one’s family, friends, and community which requires virtue and familiarity.
  3. EROS: romantic, passionate love.
    1. Sensual desires or longing felt for another person.
  4. AGAPE: a pure type of love, divine love.
    1. 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.

 

God is love… 1 John 4:8

Love is… 1 Corinthians 13

Love is the greatest… 1 Corinthians 13:13

Love others… 1 John 4:7

Love covers… 1 Peter 4:8

There is no fear in love… 1 John 4:18

Do all things in love… 1 Corinthians 16:14

 

ROMANS 8

 

A JOURNEY OF FAITH: Baby Adams

 

My husband and I discussed having children before we decided to get married. We talked about whether we wanted a child, how many children we wanted, and how soon or late in our marriage did we plan to have one. We took the road least traveled by many newlyweds. Neither one of us wanted a honeymoon baby or a child in within our first year of marriage. However, I didn’t start taking birth control pills until after we were married. I guess you can say I was playing with fire, considering it takes birth control pills about 3 months to be effective. We planned to have a child within or after 3-5 years of marriage. In the meantime, we had plans to travel, budget and save money. I thought we had the perfect plan to grow as a couple and be prepared by the time we have a child. Right off the jump, life threw us many curveballs, and God reminded me “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). We can make plans, and we can pray for our choices and decisions but God has the final say on how we get to whatever is destined to be.

 

Since my early teenage years, I struggled a lot with terrible cramps and sharp abdominal pain. Some people advised me it was normal, while others advised me to see a gynecologist. My pain worsens over the years. My doctor had me on prescription drugs because the typical 200 mg over the counter painkillers did not work for me. I had a tough time believing any pain that has me in a fetal position and in tears every month is normal. I have done blood work, Pap smears, and several other tests. Everything always came back normal. My body was telling me otherwise. I knew something was wrong. I just didn’t know what exactly. Of course, I didn’t stay off google so you can imagine my thoughts once I started reading all sorts of crazy diagnosis that matches my symptoms. My husband and I made an appointment with my gynecologist so I could get started on my birth control pills. I was not too fond of birth control pills but once she mentioned it would help relieve my pain, I was on board. She scheduled an ultra sound for me to attempt figuring out the source of my pain. While birth control pills work great for some women, it was a nightmare for me. I was in pain, my appetite changed, I was moody and irritable, I had daily migraines, and I no longer had a monthly cycle. The list goes on. I tried different pills and the side effects went from bad to worse. The side effects from the pills were more than I could handle, I eventually advised my gynecologist I no longer wanted to take them. Justin and I went in for the Ultra sound results. It turned out all these years I had been suffering from a complex ovarian cyst. She advised me all they could do at this point is monitor it then decides what action to take. I would either bleed out from it or need surgery to get my ovary removed. During that time, I went to the ER several times. They prescribed some pain killers and told me things I already knew. It was frustrating. I started thinking the absolute worse. Since I was being monitored, my gynecologist scheduled a follow-up ultra sound appointment.

I went home wondering, God why me? What sin in my past did I commit to deserve this? I couldn’t stop thinking about my situation and started imagining the worse. I was consumed by “What if” thoughts. There I was talking birth control pills to not have any children, for the time being, just to face the reality I may not be able to have any. It was a tragedy for me. One of my biggest fears in life was not being able to have children. I had enough and cried out to God for healing. I told God I refused to see another doctor, I need him to heal me. In December 2016, one of the ministers (Jamal Crook) at my church made an altar call for anyone that needed a healing from God. I went to church that night expecting something from God. The word he preached spoke to my need at the time. My husband and I held hands and went to the altar. Minister Smith walked over to us to pray with me. She asked me, what did I want God to do for me. I told her what I needed healing for. She touched and agreed with me against the spirit of infirmity that was attacking my body. I went home believing I was healed. I made a fleece to God that night and asked him for three specific signs of my healing. It was not long before it was that time of the month. I felt some pain but I rebuked the pain and remind my body the Lord healed me. I did not accept the pain. The pain I felt stopped instantly. I went day after day, no pain. I was so peaceful and pain-free I forgot what time of the month it was. My husband in disbelief kept asking me if I was okay. This was unusual for me. The first part of my fleece was answered. I had asked God that the pains I have experience would stop completely from the day I was healed going forward. It did. I am pain-free until this day.

 

 

December 22, 2016, I went to my OBGYN follow up appointment. They did an ultra sound. My husband and I waited in my gynecologist office for the results. After what seemed like an eternity, she walked in ready to discuss the results. I had no doubt God did what he did but I was super nervous. I had made up in my mind no matter what she told us that day I choose to believe and trust God. She sat down and opened her file. After a little casual conversation, she reminded us a complex cyst usually bleeds out or must be surgically removed. The damages can leave a woman sterile. She told us in my case my complex cyst was completely gone. It was 100 percent gone. I shouted with joy, thank you, Lord. God did it. I prayed for healing at church and God healed me. My second fleece to God was that he would remove whatever mass or infirmity I had on my ovary and restore me entirely. God did it. This was just a beginning to an amazing testimony from God I did not deserve. Then there was the third part of my fleece which I mentioned I would share soon enough. I didn’t know when or how but I trusted God would finish what he started.

One of the most annoying thing for me as a newlywed was people constantly asking me am I pregnant yet or when are we going to have a baby. I don’t think I will ever understand why people think that is an okay thing to do. Pregnancy is so personal but not too many people respect that privacy. I had gained some happy weight as a newlywed and to my amazement, different people would just rub my belly and asked me if I was pregnant. It was so embarrassing for me and made me very self-conscious. I knew I had gained some weight but I didn’t realize it was enough to make others assume I was pregnant. Not to mentioned it was now a sensitive subject for me. My husband and I were already facing pressure and trials no one would really expect within a year of marriage, this was icing on the cake. We lost a lot and I felt pressed on every side. God took me through the book of Job and Hebrews to keep me encouraged. No matter how hard and how much I prayed all I got from God was “patient endurance”, just trust me. I would love to tell you how strong my faith was, especially after God miraculously healed, but that was not my story. I struggled a lot to hold on to God’s promises. My prayers were no longer words or in the Spirit, I would simply cry. I was crying more than I was praying. I was very frustrated and saddened. I was at war with my mind and the word of God. I was somewhat angry with God because all I would hear from him was “patient endurance”, let go and trust me. I did not understand and I wanted to be in control. Everything seemed to be outside of my control and I had to depend entirely on God. There was not a thing I could do to change anything, except trusting God. It was difficult!

 

 

It has been a journey of faith. There was a point in the process I truly felt like Job. “What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true”, Job 3:25. God told me no, what you feared most is going to be a testimony for my glory, trust. In other words, shut up Tara, shut your emotions up, you don’t know what you are talking about. I learned to praise God on a promise. I learned to see through the eyes of faith and God’s perspective. My circumstances said no but God said not yet, my timing. I studied every scripture I could on faith and trusting God. We prayed. When I couldn’t pray, I cried and let the word of God minister to my spirit. The book of Hebrews, Job, and Abraham’s story ministered to me in ways they never had before. The things we were facing didn’t disappear but I was able to focus. I could hear God during the storm. I could take my eyes off our circumstance and thank God for what was already done. His word strengthens me. I could let go of my fears and have faith in God’s promises. No matter what, I knew his timing is perfect.

 

 

Towards the end of last year, my friend Marie Houston and I was hanging out. She told me she had a dream to share with me. God showed her something concerning me. She told me God showed her myself and two other ladies pregnant around the same time with baby boys. She said I believe what God showed me and you need to believe it too. You guys will have a baby soon. I love Marie and I trust her. She’s one of my good friends but I laughed. She laughed with me then said Adams, I’m serious. I strongly believe when God says something, he will confirm it and it will happen. In my mind I thought, she doesn’t know the half of what I have been dealing with. Marie being Marie, never failed to remind me. In May of this year, after a church service, Demi told me by this time next year I’ll be holding baby Adams. Once again, it was laughable to me. I call her Dr, so I said whatever Dr. She told me I should get ready. When I was praying she prayed for me and God told her Hannah and Abraham’s wife. I was no longer laughing. I went home and meditated on what she told me. Both women experienced the miraculous and have an incredible story of faith (Genesis 18, 1 Samuel 1). I started thinking about what the two women had in common and how that could possibly be me. They were both barren (Sterile, infertile), could not have children and God blessed both with a promised child. I thought to myself, so I am barren and God is going to give us a promised child. I did not know what else to think. Like Sarah, I laughed when God said I was going to have a child. I decided maybe I should try what Hannah did instead. I prayed and cried to God. I poured out everything I was thinking and feeling. I even repented if I doubted in any way. About a week later, my husband told me God showed him what he needs to do for me. He told me God told him to anoint me and my womb then we’re going to have a baby. I said okay if that’s what God said. June 7th of this year, I received a message from my friend Jasmine Gilkey. She lives in Kansas and didn’t know anything about what was happening in our lives. She told me the Holy Spirit led her to pray for my baby, that my faith would be strengthened, that I would be encouraged by the stories of other women in the Bible of his power. She told me she kept praying for my faith to increase regarding me being blessed with a baby. She said she messaged me as soon as she got out of prayer because if that was truly from God she needed to let me know so my faith could be strengthened and know that he heard my plea. She expressed how shocked she was because she’s all the way in Kansas and God had her praying like that for me. She encouraged me to anoint my belly, pray in faith, and speak life that the fruit of my womb will be blessed. She reminded me I would have a testimony of faith to share with others. I shared all of this with my husband along the way. While I struggled, he was always full of faith and hope. On June 18th of this year, Akil Thompson was at my church preaching. It was an on-time word and as usual, I made my way to the altar. It wasn’t concerning any of my circumstances. I was simply touched by the word and wanted to be at the altar. While I was on my knees praying in the Spirit, Amanda Jordan was next to me and started praying for me. Whenever anyone prays with me at the altar, when I’m able to, I try to quiet myself down to hear what is being prayed over me. If you know anything about being at the altar, you will understand. She prayed that my womb would be open, and she prayed against any lies and attacks coming against my mind. I spoke with her after service and she told me God told her to go pray for my womb. She said she went where Justin and I normally sit to find me but I wasn’t there. The Holy Spirit told her to follow him and he will show her where I am. She said she walked around and when she got to where I was the Holy Ghost said, there she is. She did what God told her and prayed for my womb to be open because he wants to deposit something in there. She said I don’t know what that means to you but pray and ask God. I knew exactly what it meant. Justin and I went home that night, he anointed with oil then we prayed. If God didn’t already do enough, my friend Shanette Hyacinthe texted me early June 20th “had a dream you were pregnant with a big baby boy!!”. She texted me at 7:13 AM. I was quite amused and I told God, not another person Lord I have no doubt. While I was laughing, I remembered my conversation with Demi, she laughed and told me I would be pregnant by the end of June.

 

 

Justin and I found out we were pregnant at 4 weeks, July 20th. By that time, I had my suspicions but I didn’t want to take the test. The first thing I experienced was a process in early pregnancy called “implantation bleeding”. When that happened I said to myself, oh my it’s really happening. It wasn’t long before that was followed with me falling asleep everywhere at random times, I was super tired even when I got adequate sleep, then nausea, and the most obvious my cycle was missing in action. Even then, I refused to test. When I finally build up the courage, it was a big fat positive. We conceived in June. My plan was to find out first then surprise Justin. I always imagine how cute and awesome that moment would be. I couldn’t keep my cool, screamed and rushed him to join me. We were both full of shock and joy and more shock. I eventually disappeared to be alone and cry. Justin found and told me it’s our moment I can’t cry alone. My favorite part in all of this and what truly melt my heart was God’s faithfulness. Everything happened as he said it would, in his timing, his way, and his will. I’m thankful because my Lord is faithful. He alone gets all the glory. Perhaps you can relate, maybe not. Your mountain may be different from mine but faith in God alone can move any mountains.

 

“With God everything is possible”

Matthew 19:26

ANXIOUS?

For anybody that’s struggling with stress & anxiety:

I struggled a lot with anxiety in my college years. I know that it’s different for everyone, being that the source of anxiety and levels of it varies. I became obsessed with proving my parents wrong & anyone else that said my life would amount to nothing. At the time, I wasn’t making wise decisions or living entirely right, so I struggled a lot. I developed so many fears. I was afraid I would never graduate, I would never become successful, or ever become who I planned to be. The list goes on. I did not think I had what it takes anymore to achieve my goals. My anxiety grew as I started focusing on where I should have been and the things I should have accomplished at that point in my life. Constant trips back to the mistakes I made was fuel to the fire. I became so anxious, I started having panic attacks any time I thought of my past or future. I hated where I was, so much that I had the worse thoughts one could imagine. I was so uncertain about life. I did end going to the ER several times. 

I did not tell my parents what I was going through. They were a part of my problem at the time. I did not think they would understand, nor have a solution for me. I tried so hard to live up to their expectations, and when I fell short the criticism was not constructive but rather unbearable. I tried to perfect everything I did and was unreasonably hard on myself. I lived a stressful life. I was already saved. I gave up the world and worldly things. Alcohol used to be one of my coping mechanisms. I didn’t turn back but I didn’t know how to deal my stress and anxiety or who I could talk to. People don’t really talk about being stress or anxious or depressed.

One night, I had the worse panic attack I had ever have. I was losing my mind, strength in body, and I felt like I was going to die. The spirit of fear was in my room with me. I felt like I was being sucked into this never-ending black hole of fear and darkness. During my darkness, I heard the voice of God. He said, “The Word”. It repeated in my mind, until I got the understanding, grab your bible and read it. I did. I read out loud. All I knew after that was that I woke up the following day in complete peace. I prayed and asked God to show me what was happening to me and what I can do about it. He did. God showed me fear was the root of anxiety. The Bible has two types of fear, the Fear of the LORD and the spirit of fear. I was dealing with the spirit of fear. It is not of God. I had to rebuke it and pray against it. I studied several scriptures about the difference between the two. I also study scriptures about what the Word said about being anxious, worrying, and God’s promises about the future. 

I continued to pray. I memorized scriptures of love, truth, and trust in God to help me overcome. With God, I conquered the spirit of fear. I could discern what the source of my fears was, what about them that causes me to be anxious, and lead to me panicking. I could deal with each one and eliminate them out of my life.

God gives us a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind. I spend a lot of time exercising, reading, and cooking. I went walking and running often, and intentionally take notice of the positive things in my life. Whenever I felt anxious, I could identify what it was, pray about it and read the word. I focused on life one day at a time. God knew my future, I trust him to give me an expected end. I stayed away from things and people that would give me any reason to be anxious. I focused on things that brought joy and peace. I made pleasing God my priority. I learned to manage stress and found the proper response to anxiety. 

Today, even though I have faced many trials and stressful events I no longer struggle with anxiety or have panic attacks. When I feel overwhelmed, I take it to God and find peace in him through his word. I step away from things and people that are toxic to my well-being. Most importantly, I learned to deal with myself. I must be honest with God and myself about what is truly wrong with me and face these things.