Improve your value-Lift your standard!

Oh dear, I know it’s been ages and I know you have all been waiting (some patiently, others impatiently). I have gotten the nudges, the shoves and even the “drape ups” in your phone calls, emails and text messages…lol. I also know the throats are parched and that you are anxiously craving some juice so let’s get right to it as you go get those glasses out, grab a few cubes of ice and get ready to pour-it’s juice time!

Earlier this morning-about 2:30 a.m-I was lying beside my husband and doing a little morning musings (as I get older, these become more frequent). As I looked at him, sleeping soundly and completely relaxed, I started pleasurably soaking up those facial features that I loved most and pretty soon I was reflecting on our journey to eleven years of marriage. Two impactful incidents or conversations immediately popped in my head that occurred during the first stage of our friendship. One of them will form the springboard for this edition of my blog…

During courtship, we went on a date and I thought the friendship was at a level where I could be a little less conservative in my dressing so I chose a top that would reveal just a hint of cleavage. As far as I was concerned, I looked sexy and there was no way he would not be appreciative of me stepping outside the box of my usual ankle-length skirts and turtle neck long sleeve tops (I can see you all rolling those eyes but yes that was my main mode of dress). I noticed however, that as soon as we met up, he seemed not his usual chatty and jovial self. I decided to just let things play out until he felt comfortable to talk about what was bothering him. Pretty soon, I realized that things were serious when no words were spoken until we reached our destination and he simply said: “Let’s walk.” As we found a quiet spot to sit, he stood and the alarm bells in my head started buzzing even louder but as far as I was concerned-I had done nothing wrong so it must be one of his usual “troubles”. Once seated, he looked at me and asked: “Why did you wear that blouse? You do realize that parts of your breasts are showing?” I was stunned! Then I became confused. Then angry. Which guy does not like to see a bit of skin? How dear him belittle my attempt at pleasing him? Was I now unattractive to him? Yup-I had a whirlwind of thoughts grappling for attention in my head. I took a breath to clear my muddled mind, then proceeded to explain that it was just a measly attempt to impress him. In a very perfunctory way, he told me that he was not impressed! (Oh for a hole to sink in and disappear!) He went on to point out that what first attracted him to me was my modesty and if we were to get married he wanted a chaste wife! I saw red! (Truth be told-I was mostly embarrassed rather than angry-lol).

After my husband (best-friend then) said that to me, I decided to question a few guys about the concept and really get the thoughts of some men because I thought this was what they delighted in. The responses were indeed enlightening. There are many of you, who thought like me, that the more we show or the tighter the fit, is the more attractive we are to our admirers. Too often, we assume that “sexy” is synonymous to “naked” or “tight”or “short”. This is actually far from the truth and I believe it is a misconception that the devil has used to get many of us to drop our standards and lower our value! Let us not be confused now, I am not suggesting that we all wear ankle length skirts and turtle neck blouse with long sleeve-absolutely not-lol (those little tight and “impy skimpy” outfits do have their moments*wink*). As ladies, however, we need to understand the power we possess, even when we are fully clothed. We need to improve the value we place on our selves and lift our standards! There are many of us who are guilty of not knowing our worth, hence, we lower our standard all in the hope of keeping or catching the attention of an admirer. For those of us who have been married for years, we will tell you that many times when our husbands find us very attractive or sexy was when we wore clothing that we believed was “un-sexy”. Solidifying the fact, that as ladies, we do not have to advertise body parts to captivate a good man’s attention.

I love Queen Elizabeth II and the other members of the royal family! There is a class and elegance that they live by which speaks volumes! They never lower their standards to accommodate guests; on the contrary-guests have to lift their standards to even get an audience with them or be in their presence! Ladies, we are royalty and it is time we understand the responsibility and power that we have with such a privilege. Flashing of skin does attract a man, but what kind? Men of class love women of class. They go for women who others can speak highly of and make them feel proud to walk alongside. Men revel in the honour of knowing that what others desire to see is wholly theirs to see in its entirety. A male friend of mine once said to me, “It is truly the woman who leaves me imagining what is beneath that attracts me rather than the one who has shown me and others all there is to see.” Men are natural chasers and instinctive hunters; they know the scent of good meat or game! If you are wanted, dressing half naked will not be necessary-trust me (take this from a girl who has had 3 or 4 serious marriage proposals before age 25 and I was fully clothed-lol).

When building a home, the initial market value is normally low but as each year passes and some sort of addition or “home improvement” is done, the market value is increased. In like manner, improving your value means that you should periodically add complements to your life such as a change in mannerism, a change in speech, a change in bad practices or a change in your spiritual condition in order to increase your “character worth”. As ladies, we must aspire to be a Queen Esther whose husband could not deny her wishes because she found favour in his sight (this was not just natural beauty but a spiritual aura that came from fasting and prayer). The beauty of improving one’s value is that it does not take great skill or qualification; it is just a new found appreciation for who you are and knowing that you have value! A woman who is without standards will really be bought for any price and sold below market value-don’t be that woman-lift your standards and your value will definitely be improved! Do not answer every whistle and cat call-choose wisely and make your value be known with every step, every swish of the hips and head held high as you walk in confidence knowing that you have standard and your value has increased! So ladies, if you want to know if you are valued and worth his attention, lift your standard-if he still hangs around there might be a future there BUT if his gaze starts straying and his attention gets less-RUN-he never really wanted you in the first place. It is important to note also, that our bodies will eventually undergo changes: some sections will sag and start looking droopy/withered; teeth will get missing and hair loss becomes a new trait. But, if the love was more than just an appreciation for your physical-none of that will matter-you had already established that you are a woman of worth! Keep those standards high and attract the right guy!

I hope that this was enough to get those throat muscles working as you took your swallow of cool cool lemonade! I await your usual interesting comments and feedback.

Until next time…

DBB

Words are weapons…Use them wisely!

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a very common gem that transitions across cultures and geographic boundaries. Its intent was to stop bullying (my research has shown) but I believe it is one of the most ridiculous gems learnt as children. Its content is so far from the truth that I decided to be a mediator for mankind and do additional research to see if I could speak or write a personal letter to the originator/author to point out how erroneous such a statement is and the damage it had done to many of us. I assume though, that you are more level headed than I am and did not think for one moment that I would have any success (lol) because my search was futile. The reality is, life’s experiences have taught me that words are probably one of the most lethal weapons ever possessed by mankind! Wars have been won and lost because of words (spoken or written) and love has been found or lost because of words. Words are powerful and their use must never be taken lightly. This post will definitely bring out the lemons but we must squeeze them thoroughly to get the juice that we need.

For many years, I suffered ridicule from a very close family friend who thought that I was ugly. This lady used every opportunity to publicly humiliate me by drawing comparisons with other girls in my peer group in relation to how they looked and dressed. I tried desperately to fix myself so that I could reach her definition of “beautiful” but I was obviously failing, because she never stopped telling me that I was ugly-sighs. Of course, as a child, I just could not understand the purpose behind this onslaught. Things got worst when at 10 years old, I began having serious acne outbreaks (a signal of me entering puberty). I could not find a single space on my face that was free of a “bump” or pimple (I shudder even now at my own demise then-lol). In fact, I can recall an incident involving my younger brother and I, where we had a little sibling “fight” or argument in a very crowded taxi. In the midst of the argument he said: “Yu face bumpy bumpy like frog back!” It was a blow that hit like no other even though it was not with fists, sticks or stones! The words had connected and seemed to agree with the “you’re ugly” speech that I was constantly being told. Can you imagine the destruction of my self esteem with being told constantly that I was ugly and then struggling with puberty that resulted in being even “uglier” to the point where the best animal analogy to describe my looks was a frog? It is no wonder I despise these little hopping bumpy back creatures-lol-they bring back horrible memories. I learnt from early, through these and other experiences, that words have power and can be one of the most lethal weapons therefore we must take care to use them wisely!

The written word is just as powerful as the spoken ones but there are some of us who do not censor the words that proceed from our mouths. Many of us utter words from a place of fear, jealousy or our own insecurities and speak harsh words that are imprinted in the minds of many for a long time. We oftentimes do not even observe an individual’s body language to see how our words are being received and whether or not it may have cut deep. We just say things and if necessary justify why they were spoken then get lost in the notion that what we said was right. It never even dawned on me until this very moment, that sometimes words are deliberately chosen to hurt and cripple others because of what they represent or who they are but let us (you and I), try never to fall prey to this insanity. Let us choose our words and use them wisely.

There are many of you walking around like me, that have been wounded by words. Some of them have left scars so deeply embedded in you, that today it affects how you relate emotionally, physically or even spiritually to others. You are still controlled by those words and living beneath your full potential or walking outside of your God-given purpose. Those words have been launched as weapons of mass destruction and they have left in their wake brokenness, failure, despair, self-loathing and pain. But God’s word has encouraged us to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report…(Phillipians 4:8).

We are all wired differently and our responses to personal comments or jabs may vary but it is important that we take a moment to reflect on the words that we have spoken to others. How many words have you hurled casually at people which resulted in them hurting or being permanently wounded? Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that life and death is in the power of our tongue, therefore we have a responsibility to be careful of the words we utter to our spouse, friends, children or even strangers. Once they are released in the atmosphere, no apology can bring them back! You have to make a deliberate effort to think before responding in conversations; taking just a tiny moment to reflect on what you want to say and the impact it will have on the receiver. You cannot afford to let your words be the weapon that destroys or wounds someone’s life permanently! It is very important that we think before we speak. As a little girl and in my early teenage years, I have had firsthand experience with how destructive words can be to one’s self esteem, character/reputation and overall mental health. Thank God for my mother who kept reassuring me that I was far from ugly else the outcome of my life would have perhaps been different from what it is today. I know now, without a doubt, that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that I am a child of a King. But what will happen to the person who does not have this reassurance? It makes sense therefore, to use your words with care; use them to build and not destroy (except when tearing Satan’s strongholds down).

But what can we do if we have offended others with our spoken or written words? We can show our regret by righting the wrong-tell the person you spoke from a “low” place and apologize for causing hurt. Then pray they forgive and can move on from that place of offence. If the person is unreachable for an apology, still pray! Pray that God sends someone into their lives with the right antidote to your wrong! Pray that your words will not lead them to a destructive end!

Finally, use your words wisely so that you never have to regret what you said! I may have left the sour taste of lemons in your mouth but sometimes a tinge of sour is needed for internal purging*smiles* so do not allow your words to destroy someone’s life. Speak health, speak happiness, speak power, speak love, speak strength, speak wealth, speak kindness, speak peace, speak life into the life of others! As Proverbs 25:11 states: a word fitly spoken is like apples in a picture of silver.

D.B.B

Is it worth it: Hold on tenaciously!

Inspiration comes in many forms and from a variety of sources. Mine came this week from two mongrels-lol-that I recently added to my family (Gumball and Peach-aptly named by my son). Gumball is the bull and Peach, of course, is the bitch. The use of that word to my son gained quite an epic reaction (If you have not seen it yet, be sure to check my Facebook page and have a laugh). Anyway, Gumball is quite the character. He has a spirit that many of us need to emulate in these troubled times. He just never gives up! On Friday, he removed one of my husband’s t-shirt that was on a chair. Luckily, I saw him just in time and ran to tug it from his mouth. Guess what? He refused to let it go! For a few minutes, he and I engaged in a battle of tug and war-sighs-I felt silly at one point because this was a pup and for some reason he seemed to be winning. With his teeth baring and no intention of loosening his grip, he planted all four paws firmly and just would not yield his prize. I eventually got it from him after employing a few human tricks and a mighty tug. Feeling victorious, I took a seat to gloat a bit (I can be that petty sometimes-lol). Then, I felt a sharp tug at the hem of the shirt that was left hanging! Yup, it was Gumball at it again! It was at this point that I had an epiphany-the phrase just jumped in my head-hold on tenaciously! With that said, go get your favourite glass and get ready to pour-it’s juice time!

Before we begin to pour however, let us put things in perspective and ensure that at the end of reading we all have juice! There are many of us who are holding on to things that are meaningless-things that are just weights in our lives. And the Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:1 to lay these weights aside because they will only hold us back. It is important therefore, that we first analyze what or who we are holding on to and whether or not it adds value to our lives! It could be a man/woman (sexual relationships I have come to realize form an extremely big part of many persons life), a job, a grudge, unforgiveness or hurt. Nobody knows your situation more than you. How has this thing been affecting your life? Do you feel like things have not been going right and like your head is barely above the water? You may even be walking around smiling and experience fleeting moments of joy or happiness but deep inside there is a constant ache. You are suffocating, perhaps choking, seeking a way out but you feel boxed in…is this something you want to hold on to? The ugly truth is, we are not prudent if we hold tenaciously to things that are choking the life out of us; things that are robbing us of true joy and inner peace. So the two questions to ask for self reflection are: What am I holding on to? Is it worth it? If holding on to that thing makes you a better person; gives you hope; provides you with true happiness; nourishes your soul and contributes to the greater good of society then…hold on tenaciously-do not let it go!

George Floyd’s unfortunate demise has led to many blacks across the world feeling hopeless and helpless (and with good reason) but it is imperative that even in these kinds of situations we hold on tenaciously to hope. The day one loses hope is the day that life becomes meaningless and you cannot afford to fall in that pit of despair. This pit will simply rob you of peace and fill you with anger or hatred and bitterness. “I have had enough!” or “It is time for me to let go!” you might say but if it is worth hanging on to then NO… stick it out, wait just a little bit longer! Your answer is on the way-it might be delayed-but it will come so hold on tenaciously! I know sometimes it is easier said than done but like Gumball-do not let go! And if by chance your hold slips a bit-go back and take a grip! Sometimes you will have to bare your teeth, plant your feet solidly and pull on your last ounce of strength but hold on-don’t let go! The weapon of prayer never fails and God hears both the cry of the just and the unjust! The time you choose to let go might be the time when he decides to give you your breakthrough! Hang in there; a brighter day is coming. Look, there is a cloud the size of fist-it will rain-just hold on tenaciously! Hold on to hope, hold on to life, hold on to the good memories, hold on to your friendships, hold on to your husband/wife, hold on to your job, hold on to your sanity-whatever it may be that seems to be slipping away (if it’s worth it)-just hold on tenaciously!

Finally, to my fellow christians, you have something that is invaluable and worth holding on to-your salvation. Now is not the time to let go; now is not the time to just have a loose hold-now is the time to hold on tenaciously! Hold fast to that which thou hast, let no man steal thy crown (Rev. 3:11). Do not be distracted by the chaos or turmoil that is happening; do not take your eyes off the prize! And if by some misfortune, you had let go-God is merciful-seek Him and you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). Fight for your soul-hold on tenaciously!

I believe, you had gotten your glass out, go ahead and pour your juice…sip and be filled!

Can you guess who is Gumball?

D.B.B

The Illusion of Permanence Pt.2

Dedicated to Khara-Jai Brown

Nine years ago, I had a beautiful baby girl (see pic above) and I was thrilled at the opportunity to finally be called a mother (having had a miscarriage two years prior to her birth). I imagined the hairstyles I would comb, how she would look in the tons of clothes that were bought (the heights of “extraness” cannot even be spoken here) but most excitedly, I imagined the many mother-daughter moments we would share! Heh…within the space of two months, all those dreams were snatched and crushed (I was heartbroken!). I really thought I would have her with me for a long time-if not-forever. I had made the same mistake that so many individuals are making today: I got caught up in the illusion of permanence.

Death for some persons is like a far-fetched idea because they do not look or feel ill! It is an unpleasant concept that we are often unwilling to face or that we pretend to be oblivious to until it hits. The loss, many times, seems more than we can bear and for many of us the pain lingers for years. That pain, I have found, never leaves but with time it becomes easier to accept (if you grieve properly, of course). As we are faced with this global pandemic, the death toll has jolted many of us back to reality-nothing is forever and there is a greater power than us that governs the universe! The fact is, many of us go through our daily routine assuming that we will live to use the given 24 hours in a day. Who told us that? Where did we get this preconceived idea? The Bible has told us that man is like a breath and his days are like a passing shadow (Psalm 144:4) so, it is obvious that none of us will be here forever (sounds cold but it is true) and neither will we be given a calendar with our marked date for departure. What does that mean for you and I? It means living outside of the illusion of permanence…living with the knowledge that any moment could be our last moment!

How is all this related to lemons and juices? Death is that unforgettable sour taste that lemons leave in our mouths. It leaves a void and an ache that is indescribable. The juice, however, becomes our acceptance of its inevitability and it is this juice that helps us decide our way forward. I learnt this when my baby died and was so mindful of this for my son’s birth that I took an extremely opposite approach (I did not buy a single piece of clothing in preparation for his birth-lol). I was not going to be caught in the illusion of permanence. It is a blessing to be given the gift of a son but I do not take it for granted. I make it a habit to kiss him religiously every night just before he falls asleep and every morning as he gets awake, then whisper how much I love him in his tiny ears. There are many things and persons we take for granted as we operate under the illusion of permanence. Today is the time for change. Take better care of the things given to you while on earth: be it a person or an object. Reach out to someone who has been a solid source of strength in your life and tell them how much you appreciate them; call a friend or loved one and express your love to them; send a virtual hug to someone; kiss your child or spouse and let that be the last memory they have of you each day. Don’t forget, we will all die eventually so what is the image you want to leave in people’s memory? Let it be something positive.

So…my lovely readers, are you still experiencing the taste of lemons? Hush…it will get better with time but until then, tell someone right now how much you appreciate them before it’s too late. Do not be a victim of the illusion of permanence!

DBB

The Illusion of Permanence-Pt.1

Aha…yessss…I simply cannot contain my excitement! I went to church today and unbeknownst to me (quite an archaic word I know but I like the tone of it) , a young lady who had read my blog over the weekend walked up and said: “Your blog ministered to me. I am going through some stuff right now and as I read your blog I became inspired to use my lemons and make some juice.” As far as I am concerned, objective met! The beginning indeed was to inspire and it did! Then the pith of what I could accomplish hit me-if it connected with one person, then surely there are many others with whom I could connect through this blog. Enthused, I could not wait to get home and watch those letters scurry across my laptop screen. Unfortunately, my husband had me waiting for over an hour before being picked up. I almost cried (Yep, I can be that dramatic at times). I was anxious to get home to write: my audience was waiting for “juice“! Their appetites were whetted and I dare not disappoint. So let me get straight to the focus of this blog.

The title of this blog was taken from a message I heard my pastor preach about four or five years ago when I was having one of those “lemon” moments. I was in a place of despair and frustration-wondering when I would see just a peak of sunshine to remind me that the dawn was breaking. As I struggled to understand what I had done to deserve this unfortunate turn of event in my life, I went as usual to the place that I call my safe haven-church. As the pastor walked up to the podium and shared her topic: “The illusion of permanence”, I found it to be a rather interesting combination of words and could not wait to hear the content. I was astonished! If I did not know better, I would have certainly thought someone had told her my business. It is moments like those that help to concretize my belief that there truly is a God! Anyway, can I just say that at the end, I could not help myself-I cried-huge heart wrenching sobs! The essence of the message was that nothing on this earth lasts forever- no matter how it appears to be a constant-it is not there forever! I held on to that title and it has been my “juice” in some really dark moments so as you get out your favourite glass, drop in a few cubes of ice, get ready to pour some lemonade…it’s “juice” time!

There are many times we are faced with unpleasant situations that just seem to remain constant “lemons”in our lives-some illnesses, abuse, being broke, ridicule, unemployment, elusive promotions, ugly rumours, brokenness, an horrible past…and the list goes on. These temporary discomforts seem to be lodged forever in your lives and then these questions parade in your head: When will this anguish end? When will my pain ease? When will I cry tears of joy instead of tears of sadness? When will my midnight moans cease and I can get a night of rest? (I know because I have asked myself every one of them at some point or the other in my life). But, guess what? It does not matter what you are going through-always remember-it is not there forever! It is just an illusion of permanence in your life! Do not let it control your thoughts or your actions! As Rick Warren said in his book,”The Purpose Driven Life: What on earth am I here for?“, our life on earth is a temporary assignment. As an individual, living with this knowledge makes it so much easier to face those “illusions of permanence”. Your life will take on new meaning, your shoulders will straighten and your head will lift as you walk in confidence because one day…change will come!

Are your “lemons” giving you an illusion of permanence? Mash that lie…pour some lemonade and take a sip! It’s juice time! Look out for part 2!

DBB

The beginning

“Wow…I finally get to write and share to a whole new audience!” Those were the first words that popped into my head as my fingers traveled quickly across the keyboard. I had yearned for the day when I would actually do this; having been told repeatedly by my colleagues, friends and family members that I was wasting my talent. Writing had always come naturally and I seemed to possess a natural instinct for the skill (though I would be lying if I profess to be a Pulitzer winning writer). But, this is my beginning…the start of something that I believe will become phenomenal! And what better time to do it than now-in this global pandemic-when many persons have time to read!

LemonsandJuices is an avenue for expression of my thoughts on friendships (a concept I have struggled with for years), marriages, parenting and God. The lemons signify the sour or unpleasant experiences that individuals ,like myself, have gone through in various forms of relationships whether it be friendship, marriage, parenting or with God. But Juices, on the other hand, are the refreshers! Those unforgettable moments or experiences that give one’s life new meaning (and they may or may not come from these “lemons”). The reality is that both experiences are like patches in a quilt-specially designed by God- that will eventually be a beautiful masterpiece of what my life or your life represents (I live by Jeremiah 29:11). Hence, lemonsandjuices, will hopefully provide information but more so inspiration to create a lift in one’s spirit and a new direction for one’s mind even in these uncertain times.

So, what have you been doing with your lemons? Are you making juices? Or are you allowing them to leave that sour taste in your life? Lets face it, you are not the only one who has gone through or is going through difficult times, in fact, I bet there are others whose situation will make yours pale in comparison. In God’s word, David said: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?…hope thou in God”(Psalm 42 vs 11). Grab on to that hope! It is time to start making juices! Time to use those unpleasant experiences as stepping stones to unlock greatness in your life! Time to unleash your spiritual gifts or your natural God given talents! Start today by clearing your mental clutter and get your creative juices flowing. What is it that you have always wanted to do but never got done? Could it be that your “lemons” can make “juices“?

#hope #lemonsandjuices #zerotohero

DBB

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