Just A Kiss – Sample Sunday

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**Rough Draft. Unedited. Can Change.**

Buddy was throwing a get together at Mickey’s restaurant, gathering the entire 35 and under crowd in Belle City and even a few of the neighboring towns. It had been weeks since Meadow, Ashton, Rose and I went to Mickey’s together, but we were excited for a night out. Supposedly, when Buddy threw a party, he’d play all the good songs on the jukebox, having cleared space in the main room for a dance floor. Though it was Friday, it wasn’t the first one of the month; it was just a good time to throw a get-together I suppose.

I didn’t bother to walk through the restaurant when I arrived. Walking straight to the back of the wraparound porch, I found the girls standing against the railing, giggling about something.

“Miranda, girl, you’re late, but you’re cute so I guess you get a pass,” Meadow mused.

The temperature had been muggy and hot all day, but with the coming of night, an autumn coolness could be felt in the air. I wore a pair of my favorite dark wash jeans and my cowboy boots with an off the shoulder white blouse I’d found on a sale rack at Saks over a year ago. My hair swung in it’s low ponytail; I’d put it up, hoping to keep some strands away from my face.

“I’m glad you approve,” I chuckled.

“So does he, it looks like…” Rose nodded towards the backdoor of the restaurant. I turned to look, spotting Owen standing with Mickey, Parker, Connor, and Buddy. All the guys were focused on their conversation, but Owen was staring at me, smiling as I searched for a piece on my hair to fiddle with. Owen had thrown on something different from his uniform of t-shirt and worn jeans. He was wearing a flannel red button up, with dark wash jeans and black casual shoes.

“Is there something you want to tell us?” Meadow pried.

“Nope.” The anticipation in all three of their faces fell. They were all pushing for something—it was obvious.

“Seriously?” Ashton finally spoke.

“Seriously…he’s just helping us fix the bakery. That’s it.”

“That shouldn’t be it,” Meadow muttered, getting nods of agreement from both Ashton and Rose.

Before I could respond, the siren call of our favorite song in high school—the one we all agreed was our theme song—suddenly thumped through the speakers.

Let’s go girls!” Shania Twain’s voice called and we answered with smiles, dancing and singing along.

Meadow always loved Shania Twain in high school, dubbing herself Shania’s number one fan. Man! I Feel Like a Woman! became ‘our song’ during senior year. We were so young back then, all with very different aspirations, supporting each other just the same.

Meadow clenched her fist, pantomiming a microphone, and belted her favorite part. “Man! I feel like a woman!” We all laughed, continuing to dance.

I tried my best not to turn and look at Owen and the guys, but I failed. The couple times my eyes did drift toward him, he’d already been watching me. My heart raced. Finally, I paused to catch my breath from singing, until Zac Brown Band blared through the speakers and we were right back to singing, this time to Chicken Fried.

It was hard to disagree with most of the words. There was nothing like Belle City, Georgia. Granted, there wasn’t another New York either, but there were plenty of big cities that housed rich people and polluted air. Towns like Belle City housed folks that cared about the little things, pulling together when someone was suffering, enjoying back porch parties where the air was clean and familiar. Belle City had its own charm.

Before I could continue comparing the two places, all the guys were walking out on the porch—Mickey, Buddy, Connor, Parker, and Owen. The melody slowed; I knew who it was before he sang the first lyric. Connor took Meadow’s hand and walked her to the makeshift dance floor, where other couples were slow dancing to the sounds of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. It’s Your Love had always been one of my favorite songs. After all, it was Tim McGraw, my favorite.

Buddy stared at Ashton. “Wanna dance?”

We all stared as we waited for Ashton to answer.

“Buddy, you have two left feet,” Ashton laughed. “I’m joking, c’mon.” So they agreed to dance while Rose and I stood amongst the rest of the guys.

Mickey tilted his head towards Rose and then the dance floor, and not five seconds later I was the last girl left. Parker and Owen stood there, awkwardly.

“I’m going to head inside to grab some of those cheese curds.” Parker tossed his finger over his shoulder, marking his exit.

“Guess that leaves us.” Owen drew my attention to him as Parker left.

“Guess so.” I smiled, trying my best to hide my nerves.

“Dance with me…” He offered his hand. I looked up at his face, dissolving at that smile beneath the beard that I’d grown fond of.

I took his hand, believing that he’d guide me to the dance floor inside, but he didn’t walk in; instead he twirled me around.

When he saw the shock in my expression, he laughed. “Let’s just dance right here. Right now.” I looked in his eyes, as he grinned. How could I say ‘no’ to him with a look like that?

So we danced.

I couldn’t speak, but didn’t have to; we moved in unison, and it was all the thousand words that we’d been dying to say to each other. The Tim McGraw ballad ended, and Lady Antebellum’s Just A Kiss kept us close. I hated to admit it, but it felt good being wrapped in Owen’s arms. His cologne smelled like spice and leather; so good. I glanced up, as we moved back and forth to the music, watching the stars glimmer above us; watching the moon gleam down on us. We were under the spotlight together and I didn’t know what to make of the feeling.

Before I could settle, Owen backed away. As usual, our eyes connected and we stared at each other before we began to move closer. I was sure we both felt the same thing, saw the same intention in one another.

We were so close…

“Miranda, get in he–…” Meadow paused, as Owen and I nearly jumped away from each other. “Sam’s boyfriend just proposed.” She smiled and winked my way before she turned and walked back into Mickey’s. We’d all went to school with Sam and engagements were huge around town. It was the first step of joining two people together. Ironic that Sam’s engagement had just prevented Owen’s lips and mine from connecting. Oddly enough, I couldn’t decide whether I was disappointed, or relieved.

Where I Belong is the first novel in the Southern Belle’s Series. It’ll be available early July!
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Losing Your Identity for Christ

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I’ve bet you heard the saying, “find your identity in Christ”. We hear it preached during conferences; we see it plastered on various social media posts; and we’ve become accustomed to saying it without thinking twice. While I’m sure it was created with great intentions, I believe this generation of believers has made the act of seeking God all about self. Sure, there are some believers truly seeking God for all that He is. And then, there are others who have merely watered down the power of their lives being transformed by an encounter with God… to the evidence of God in their lives with stuff.

Often, we are sold ideas that say we haven’t arrived in our relationship with God unless we have something to show for it; wealth, a popular ministry; a cute praying husband, and a business that can get us out of our 9-5. Or maybe I’m the only one who notices that trend [shoulder shrug]. I think that it’s awesome to see women excel in their calling, but somehow the Gospel, and everything that we know to be true in the Bible, has been traded for a common misconception: that you have somehow achieved a certain status in Christ when you have something to show—specifically dealing with our false view of identity and purpose. When we do this, we reduce God and we make our lives bigger than they should be.

As followers of Jesus we are to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Him. Today, we see many people saying they follow Jesus, but never really walking it out. Could it be that we have these views because we are constantly told to find our identity in Him? I want to challenge that saying—change it, even—because we will never truly encounter God in His fullness if we are steadily reducing Him to be a purpose dealer. Please don’t mistake me; I know that we can only find out why we were created by going to the creator, but that shouldn’t be the reason why we seek Him—especially if it’s aside from the fact that all we do should bring Him glory.

Instead, I think the saying should go, “lose your identity for Christ”. Yep, that’s right. Give it ALL up for Him. Yes, even the idea that finding contentment in God will bring you a husband quicker—reducing God and making our lives bigger, once again. You see, we have replaced the beauty of coming before God just because He is God, with a give and take attitude that can lead us to all kinds of problems like self-righteousness through works of the law.

If you really think about it, losing your identity for Christ isn’t something I’ve made up; we find it in Matthew 16:25

“Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.” (GNT)

It’s a critical scripture that we tend to lose sight of because popularity has said that finding your identity in Christ means a purpose birthed ministry; a career; a husband and a family. But doesn’t that understanding of finding our identity in Christ resemble gaining our own lives like in Matthew 16:25? In its purest form, the phrase “find your identity in Christ” can mean that we come to see ourselves the way that God sees us, while also being challenged and changed to take on the characteristics of Jesus Christ. I get that, but how often do people use that phrase and truly relate it to the description given above? Personally, I don’t see it, read it, or hear it very often.

More than ever, we equate our identity to a calling, a ministry, and our purpose. Often we seek these huge platforms to tell people about God. We want to have the look, the perfect persona, and the perfect message to tell the masses how they can get what we have. Through a false sense of identity, many have believed that telling people their story and how they founded a ministry or got married can replicate the Gospel. While I do believe—and know firsthand—that a testimony can be powerful and encourage someone going through the same trials, it shouldn’t aim to replace Jesus. It shouldn’t come close to Jesus. Sadly, these messages attract countless people. The idea of doing x,y, and z to gain all the material things God has for you has become encouragement for listeners hoping they’ll find their “identity” too. When all along, what we ALL truly need is Jesus. Not a ministry. Not a husband. Not thousands of double tappers on Instagram. What we really need is a wake-up call; a snap of the fingers to remind us that letting go of our vision for our lives and our idea of what makes us look the part, gives us the chance to BE transformed and actually BE the light on this earth. We’ll actually recognize the person working at the desk next to us, instead of setting our sights on the thousands because we’ve been fooled into thinking our identity comes through gifts, ministry, or a calling. Only through Christ will we be able to believe everything God says about us—our true identity. Only through Christ will we grow and be pruned, making us more like Jesus and less like the false identities we’ve been chasing after.

LOSING OUR IDENTITY FOR CHRIST IS EVERYTHING!

When we lose our lives for Him, we gain our true identity. What is that identity? Well, we’re justified and declared righteous because of Jesus. We begin to commune with God and the Holy Spirit begins to change us; after all, we are a new creation. We begin to display the fruit of the Spirit and our old way of living is replaced by our new way of life. When we truly commune with God we learn that nothing can satisfy us like He can.

CAN I SHARE SOMETHING WITH YOU?

Something powerful happened to me last week. I was humbled and it brought me to a place of reverence about who God truly is and who I am not. I learned to celebrate that, because following Jesus is much better than holding on to stuff and identities on this earth that receive acceptance from mere men. I learned that losing my life allowed me to gain. The Spirit constantly reminds me and prunes me to be more like Jesus everyday. I have seen the harvest of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control in my life (Galatians 5:22). I have communed with God and felt His correction in those areas when I am wrong and have fallen short. I’m reminded of how amazing He is and how flawed I am—I need Him. In seeing it His way, I also learned not to pout over my mistakes, but to thank Him for convicting me about the “little things” because they literally SAVE. MY. LIFE.

I can’t say it enough: I have learned that losing my life for Jesus is gain. Ministry, purpose, and marriage are all beautiful things in the correct context, but there is only One who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Losing my false sense of life for His sake, gives me REAL life. Jesus Christ is the life.

It’s my hope that we can get back to knowing Jesus is the answer, instead of reducing him to being a part of life’s equation that somehow gets us this Christian status, approved by a lot of “Christians” and sort of approved by the world too. So to speak, denying yourself, carrying your cross, and following Jesus is the equation. The outcome—your true identity—is life…

Through Jesus, because of Jesus, and only Jesus!

Stay encourage. Keep fighting the good fight. Seek acceptance from above.

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Eight Lessons…

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HEY!

To say it’s been a long time would certainly be an understatement; it seems like it’s been FOREVER! I haven’t published an edifying post since August. That’s just too long. I miss getting things out here for others to—hopefully—read, relate, and receive. So needless to say, I’m expecting to do better (pray for me). I’m want to share and continue to be as transparent as I can be.

 

So last month (February 17) I turned 26. It was a total wow moment for me because it seems like I was just turning 18 two weeks ago. It’s like my Granny always says, “Once you turn 18, it feels like every six months your birthday is coming around again.” I shake my head every time she tells me that because it’s so true. I don’t know about You, but throughout my years as an adult I’ve had plenty of ups and downs. However, I have truly learned to rejoice about it all because the ups are amazing and the downs are always lessons that draw me closer to God. Turning 26 has been pivotal, as God has placed so many desires within me throughout the years; now they are clear and concise and He’s finally given me the green light!

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So… even though February has passed (I promise I’m not trying to drag my birthday out lol), I would love it if You took the time to reflect with me over a list of 8 things (2+6) this past year has taught me. Prayerfully, these lessons from the Lord will bless You as You continue to grow and trust God too.

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1. Trust God

This one seems like a no-brainer, but there a plenty of times when our mouths say that we trust God and our actions prove otherwise. This year alone, God has showed and warned me about so many situations prior to when they actually occurred—whether in a dream, vision, or through prayer. There have been a few instances when I thought that the small, still voice within me was actually me worrying or thinking hypothetical things, when in actuality it was God literally guiding me through this thing called life. For instance, I used to have a dream about an ex every time he was about to reach out. It was very annoying at first, until I realized it was God trying to prepare me for the various ways he’d outsmart the “block” and try contact me. See, God will ALWAYS protect His sheep. The wolf can come around in sheep’s clothing, but if You’re diligent and seeking God, He will always give You a forewarning to stay close to Him as He guards You. You just have to trust whatever God tells You. Well, the last dream I had was very vivid and yielded caution within me; none of the other dreams were as bad as this one. A few days later the ex reached out to me saying new things and sounding different—changed even—, yet as soon as I hung up the phone God reminded me of the dream and to stay far away from him. So I did… because I trust God over feelings. In this case, I learned to trust God and the various ways He communicates with me. If You have trouble hearing or knowing when it’s God’s voice, spend time with him. His sheep know His voice—and His ways.

2. Peace of mind is greater than a piece of space

This is pretty self-explanatory. For the later part of last year (October-January) and the beginning of this year I was experiencing a season of transition. When I first moved back to Michigan I didn’t want to live in Detroit because the neighborhood was high in crime, so I opted to live with a family member in the suburbs. Though it was a blessing, after a while it became very trying and God was moving me elsewhere. The space and location was awesome, but the environment was a test to my faith and a constant spiritual war-zone. I eventually moved to that neighborhood in Detroit and the first night in my new room I remembered thinking that peace of mind is greater than a piece of space. Sometimes the place that’s looks like a ‘no’ to the rest of the world, is the very place God wants you to go. I found out that peace isn’t found in an environment, but in Christ alone. It’s funny how God works things out. The church I work at during the summer is less than two miles away and all the kids that I love pouring into live near me now. I get to be here with them and appreciate and participate in the rise of the city again. I get to be one of the people who spread the gospel to the youth in my neighborhood. Praise God; talk about a perspective change!

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3. Enjoy the simple things

Speaking of changing my perspective… I think learning to enjoy the simple things is something that comes with age lol. As I’ve gotten older, I have learned to find joy in the “simple” things. Perspective tells me that the things that I deem small may not be so insignificant to someone else; I must live with an attitude of gratitude. So I relish in the moments I can comfortably read an amazing novel. I enjoy sitting at the kitchen table listening to my Granny tell me a story with glee. I’m thankful for dinner dates with my friends that lasts for hours and are filled with laughter and loving truth. I am grateful to have my old car that runs well. I thank God for waking me and giving me another day to be amazed by His goodness. Just last week I bought a jar and I’m filling it with notes of gratitude that I’ll read again at the end of the year. It’s such a good idea and a way to find something “simple” to be grateful for each day. Join me!

4. People will have an opinion about your life, but that isn’t your business.

Do You trust God and care about what He says? Or do You care about what Your family, friends, and the world thinks about Your life? I’ve mentioned previously that I was a “people pleaser”. God might’ve said one thing, but if the world saw fit for me to be doing xyz by 23, then I needed to be doing that. I’m so glad I overcame that—with God. I have learned to cling to God and what He says, forcing myself to ignore the world’s way. I can’t please God and the world; I have to choose. It’s funny that the world groups us into categories according to our age. We should be doing this by 21; we should own this by 25; we should have kids before 30. Yet God has a specific plan for each of His children. You and I are no carbon copies; God knew us in our mothers’ wombs and created each of us for His purpose—a purpose unlike that of the world and it’s push for our accumulation of stuff for ourselves. Be about the Father’s business and You won’t have time to worry about what people think about You.

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5. Stagnation isn’t the same as waiting for God

This is one of those lessons that prompted an “ouch” response from me, but it was needed. This was a word that God gave me in February about my own life. I constantly have new doors presented to me and I had been telling myself that I was waiting for God to tell me which one to walk through, but I wasn’t really waiting. God convicted me about standing still because I was afraid that if I opened one door I’d miss out on the others. Stagnation is fear; waiting is faith. When You wait for something, You have expectancy for an arrival. When You’re stagnant You’re refusing to move—not because You’re waiting for something, but because something has held You up. For me that was the fear of missing out, but “we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Maybe the thing that’s got You stagnant isn’t fear, but something or someone else. Remind Yourself of God’s promises. He is faithful and greater than anything that would hold You back from what God wants to do through Your obedience.

6. What God gives is always good, but what looks good isn’t always God

Guard your heart. Pray. Tell yourself to NEVER settle. I always say to my friends, “a good guy isn’t necessarily God’s guy”. As a single woman, I constantly have to remind myself that waiting for God’s best means that I won’t settle for something that looks good to the world. Even when everybody is getting engaged and married, I am reminding myself that what God presents cannot be duplicated. There are a lot of guys that are good according to the world’s standards, but there is one for me that is God’s guy. The same for you! And what God gives is ALWAYS good. I’ve learned that I have to be patient and discern the difference between God’s best and the world’s good.

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7. Reasons; seasons; lifetimes

This has been reoccurring throughout the years, but this past year I’ve been able to fully comprehend this lesson that my sister-in-love taught me years ago. People come into Your life for reasons, seasons, and lifetimes. I’ve had friends who were walking this walk with me, and then suddenly we were no longer treading along the same path. Initially, I spent time worrying about them, but it wasn’t until I was reminded that I couldn’t save them that I stopped worrying. Jesus is the ONLY savior and The Word says that “He who started a good work in them will finish it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). So I stopped fretting, began praying, and strengthened myself for this life as an ambassador… and you know what, God blessed me with people who are walking the same path as I am. When I started focusing on God, He placed people around me with the same focus. Does that mean they all will be lifetime friends? Not necessarily; sometimes people with the same focus as You will only be a seasonal friend, because God is taking them to another place. Likewise, sometimes people only come into your life to teach you. And then there the few friends that You are blessed to do life with. Pray and You’ll begin to see the difference between a lifetime and a seasonal friend. Regardless, I recognize the significance in reasons, seasons, and lifetimes; whether a friend is in the first or the last category, I’ve taken something away from their presence in my life.

8. All things work together for the good of those that LOVE Him

So… when I was lukewarm, I used to think the scripture said, “All things work together for the good of those that believe in Him.” I think that a lot of people make this mistake, whether they read it like that or not. Belief is weak in this sense because it doesn’t produce action; only love can do that. As those who love God, it doesn’t mean that things will be perfect and we’ll never face any tests or trials, but it does mean that God will cause all things to work together for our good (action). It isn’t a work-and-receive reward, but it’s the result of loving God. Believing God is something that even the demons do. There are a lot of people that believe that God exists; yet they live in sin because they don’t love Him. All things can’t work together for them because God is not a liar; He does not bless sin. But constantly the Bible says that those who love God will obey Him. I say all this because it encouraged me. Sometimes when we’re living for God and doing what He says, things don’t always look great around us, but stay encouraged. Because You love Him, He is working everything out on Your end to come together and make sense whenever He deems it the right time. Don’t fret; all things are working for Your good! Keep loving Him and keep choosing God in the midst of whatever is going on in Your life.

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Thanks for reflecting with me; it was cool to write down the things that God has taught me over this last year. Of course, it’s been more than eight lessons, but these are the few that made the cut lol. I would love to hear what God has taught you—whether it’s on this list or not. Iron sharpens iron, and hearing your lessons surely will bless me!

Continue to be the light and share the gospel,

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Chenise xoxo

 

Sample…Monday

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Here’s my newest book baby! I’ve had these characters brewing in my mind for awhile now. It feels so good to share them and to start another series—not to mention something new in general.  This is book one of the Southern Belle’s Series.

**This is a rough draft so it can change**

ENJOY!

Noon came faster than I thought it would. Rosemary—being punctual as usual—had been waiting outside the bakery in a navy flare dress. Her red hair blew a little as the wind took it. She wore gold-framed sunglasses and pretty tinted red lip stain.

            “We’re only going to the hardware,” I teased, exiting the bakery.

            “A girl can get dolled up on her day off,” she laughed. “Plus I’m supposed to meet Mickey after.”

            I gave her a knowing glance—the side of her face being my target since she was staring straight ahead.

            “Rose…?”

            “What? We’re just friends.” She grinned.

           “Sure. You’ve been “just friends” since junior year in high school. Twelve years later and you two still aren’t together? Never have been?”

            She turned to finally face me, as we finished crossing an intersection. Her mouth opened briefly, then shut. “No. Never have.” The small smile was absent from her face.

            We walked a few more feet, neither of us saying anything.

            “I mean how exactly do you know?”

            “Know what?” I asked.

            “I know how I feel about Mickey. But I don’t know how Mickey feels about me. I don’t know what to look for, but I feel like I’ll know it when I see it. You’re the romance author; how do you know when it’s love?” Rosemary opened the door to the hardware, letting me walk in before her.

            I sought out Mr. Edwards, hoping his greeting and belly laugh could get me out of answering that. I was an aspiring romance author; someone who was supposed to know what being in love with a man felt like—looked like. That’s what Adam and I were working on. In a couple months, hopefully, Rosemary could ask me the question again and I’d be able to answer it confidently.

            The front counter was empty and the TV was turned off. Mr. Edwards must’ve been toying around in the back. When I’d tag along with Daddy, we’d often come when Mr. Edwards was sorting out his orders in the backroom. Sooner or later he’d be out to check on us, hearing the bell and all.

            Like I’d hoped, Rosemary went along, ignoring my silent answer to her question. We’d sauntered over to isle four and spotted the stacks of paint samples.

            “What about this one?” She pointed to a grey color. “Magnetic gray.”

            “It’s too cold. It has to be inviting…comforting.” I crouched low to look at the samples on the bottom shelf.

            “What about earth tones? At Home With Nature and Olive Branch are inviting,” she stated.
            I stood straight, looking at the sample colors in her hand. The At Home With Nature was a soft blend of green and beige. Olive Branch was beautiful and distinct. Olive-green, the same color as Owen’s striking eyes. I shook my head. It didn’t matter how hard I fought, he still seemed to make his way into my thoughts.

            “What’s the matter?” Rosemary questioned. “If you don’t like the color we’ll find another one.”

            “It’s not that. I like the At Home With Nature as an accent wall. I just can’t stop thinking about–“

            “Sorry I wasn’t able to greet you when you came in. Mr. Edwards went home for lunch and I was just accepting a wood recycle outback.” His thumb was pointed over his shoulder, his eyes focused on me. “Today’s just my second day. I had to convince Mr. Edwards that I’d be ok here by myself,” he gleamed.

Owen’s posture was straight and tall. He stood with confidence in his worn jeans, beige work boots, and a grubby gray t-shirt that had seen better days. Still, with all the wear and tear of his clothes, he was as handsome of a man as they came. I tried my best to ignore it, but he wouldn’t let me.

            “Well that’s ok. We found the paint we were looking for.” Rosemary said. “Right?” she lightly tapped my shoulder, snapping me out of the hypnosis of Owens green eyes.

            “Right. Yes. We found it.” I inhaled, feeling out of breath.

            “What’s the paint for?” Owen walked closer, sweat dancing on his forehead. All I could think about was Meadow’s words during dinner.

“Miranda girl, this is Belle City; you want your man to have a little hair, and evidence of a hard days work.”

Like always, his beard was still in tact, covering the bottom half of his face.

            Rosemary glanced at me. “It’s for her mom’s bakery. They finally talked her into a much-needed makeover. I feel sorry for the poor guy who has to deal with Mrs. Leanna and her bakery.” She offered a clueless chuckle.

I hadn’t let any of my friends know that Owen was the “poor guy” who’d have to deal with Mama—not even Karla.

Owen smirked, waiting for Rosemary to quit her laughing. “Hi, I’m Owen.” He stretched out his hand. “I’m that “poor guy”.”

Rosemary’s face changed instantly. “I was only joking,” she fixed, grabbing his hand. “You’ll probably have to deal with this lady here.”

I turned to meet her stare as her finger pointed to me.

“Sounds like a good deal to me.” Owen demanded our attention after that comment. 

“I saw Mickey’s porch; you do a great job.” Rosemary took the awkwardness away. “I’m sure you’ll have everything at Leanna’s fixed up in no time.”

“That’s my plan.”

Warmth began to spread all over me. I didn’t know if it was nerves or something else. Whatever it was didn’t matter; I needed to get as far away from him as possible. I knew just what Owen meant, and I didn’t want to give Rosemary time to respond and setup something I hadn’t been asking for. I didn’t need to be fixed up.

“We’ll come and order the paint when we’re ready,” I quickly threw out.

Owen started to chuckle, before he lowered his gaze on me.

“No problem, Miranda,” he softly spoke before he turned, leaving Rosemary and me in the isle alone.

When he walked away my anxiousness subsided, so I blamed the heat on that. It was just nerves, that’s all. A flood of anxiety because I wasn’t supposed to look at Owen in any way other than the man who Parker had hired to fix Mama’s bakery.

“What was that about?” Rosemary faced me, her face scrunched in confusion

“Nothing.”

She placed the sample paper back atop of the stack. “Oh I saw it. And it was more than “nothing”.”

“What do you mean you saw it? Saw what?”

Rosemary lowered her voice and stepped even closer to me. “I saw the look that I’ve been waiting for Mickey to give me. Owen gave you that look…multiple times actually,” she winked and snickered.

“Owen’s just being nice, Rosemary. Stop making it more.” I turned to look at the paint samples, pretending that her observation didn’t have an affect on me.

            “Stop making it less, Miranda,” she huffed, starting her search again beside me. She shuffled through a few papers and paint colors silently, probably noticing how tense Owen left me.

            Truth was, he’d had an affect on me the first time I saw him. Repelled I’d repeated, but he grew on me. How could a girl ignore those charming eyes and that beautiful smile? How could I ignore his roundabout way of flirting with me?

I had to be honest with myself.

I wasn’t avoiding trouble; I was already in it.

he say, she say GOD says…

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If you’ve read some of my older posts then You know how this works. If You’re new here, praise God! I only write blogs when I feel led to do so. For the past week or so God has been giving me wisdom and preparing me—obviously for my walk, but I believe for this blog post too. So let’s get into it:

Lately, God has been opening doors for me. They’re not just good opportunities, but God opportunities. Good opportunities can be received on my own, but God opportunities have God’s supernatural power all over them. I cannot gain God opportunities without…GOD. So there they were; these open doors that God made possible, and the end vision looks so beautiful, but the steps God is asking me to take to get there often look difficult. They don’t make sense… and I have learned that that’s 100% ok, because I’m not called to make sense of them.

Maybe God has called You to do something; opened up the door for You, and the step He’s asking You to take seems like a crazy thing to do. It looks ludicrous to Your family and friends; to the world; and even to You. What do You do? Do You consult everyone before You’re obedient to God, or do You follow Jesus and remember that this is a walk of sacrifice, submission, and FAITH? The problem with engulfing Yourself with the opinions of all Your friends, Google, and Your own thoughts, is that You become double-minded and unstable. Plain and simple, You have to go where God says go. There is something greater at risk than a moment of being uncomfortable. Besides, we know that being uncomfortable is apart of growing.

So let’s review what The Word says about concerning Yourselves with the opinions of Your family and friends, the world, and Your thoughts.

FAMILY AND FRIENDS:

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Quite frankly, this is the one thing that holds so many Christians back. Often times, we can shoo the thoughts of strangers, but the opinions of those closest to us matter. You get instruction from God, and then You go and ask all these people around You, most of which aren’t following Jesus—cause being a believer and a follower are two very different things. So You ask Auntie so-n-so and Your best friend from the 6th grade, and a slew of other folks that aren’t God. Think about that…you’re asking mere humans for opinions concerning God’s calling for Your life. Wise counsel is awesome, but is the person Your asking really connected to the Lord?

I’m convinced that if the counsel is truly wise, they would advice You to go and do WHATEVER God tells You to do.

Let’s think about the beginning of the New Testament, when Jesus is rounding up His disciples to follow Him, fellowship with Him, and learn His ways. He calls them to come and a few recognize the blessing of that command and they leave everything and follow Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22). THAT’S POWERFUL! Then, there are some that were so heavily burdened and weighed down by that charge and their own lives that they had to take care of some traditional and family business before they could follow Jesus (Luke 9:59-62).

God is calling You to come and follow Him, but are You too burdened by the opinions of Your family to obey? Are You too burdened by traditions to obey? The mind-blowing thing about all of this is that it’s God who’s calling us. God wants us to come, but we can’t be so attached to thoughts and opinions that we miss that invitation. Then we’re stuck hanging around the same old people, doing the same old thing.

FOLLOW JESUS

Furthermore, God has also been telling me that as He calls me to do certain things, I have to leave some people behind. I have to learn to let go. I can’t bring them; everybody can’t go where I’m going.

busBLOGImagine You have a ticket for a bus; it’s scheduled to leave on Monday at 9 AM. You know this place the bus is taking You is undoubtedly God’s plan, but You’re so busy trying to take all Your friends and family along with You, that You miss the bus God had scheduled YOU to be on. Best friend and cousin didn’t have a ticket to that bus, so they’re not missing anything or losing out. But You…GOD PRINTED YOUR TICKET, but You were so worried about bringing all these people, that You missed it. But let’s pretend You do get to that bus on time, with those people; do You know how much stuff they are bringing with them? Maybe they haven’t laid it all at His feet like You have, and now y’all are trying to go where God directs with all this weight and baggage and STUFF He never told You to bring on this journey.

 I truly believe, sometimes, the best way to reach those closest to You, is to follow God and be the light. Let Your life be their testimony.

THE WORLD:

Are You a servant of this world, or Christ? It’s a simple question, and we may reply,”‘Jesus”, but our actions scream, “the world!”

“Now do you think I am trying to make people accept me? No, God is the one I am trying to please. Am I trying to please people? If I wanted to please people, I would not be a servant to Christ.” – Galatians 1:10 (ERV)

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Recently, I’ve had the idea to start a new novel series. I was so excited about it, but deeply troubled too. You see, the new series is not African-American Christian fiction; it’s a Christian novel with mainly Caucasian characters. Why did that bother me? I’ve published four books (YAYE!), and all of them are centered around AA characters. Furthermore…I’ve got this following from readers who look like and identify with those characters. And then there are the discussion boards on this vast world wide web, full of authors and readers who feel like AA authors who write Caucasian novels are selling-out. Talk about troubled. I battled that fitting-in-bug for a minute. But it wasn’t until I was talking to a supportive author friend that God hit me with the truth—right from my own mouth.

I WRITE TO GLORIFY HIM.

Novels are just the medium, but the words, the storyline, the redemption; the entire thing brings God glory. And truth is, His kingdom isn’t full of ALL black, white, brown, purple, or any other color people. It’s full of souls. On this earth, I’m called to be the light to souls, not just to black people, or white people. So if God gives me an idea to write about an Indonesian woman who comes to know Him, without doubt I will do as I’m directed.

You have to do the same. Forget about what the world says, praises, and accepts, and follow God. The place God is calling You; the thing God is telling You to do, is much bigger than the opinions of people who don’t wake You up everyday, supply all of Your needs, and—ultimately—offer You salvation. See the bigger picture here?

Are You obedient to God or this world?

 YOUR OPINION:

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Next to the thoughts of Your family/friends and the world, are Yours; the doubt that creeps into Your mind. Or it may be the fear that’s held You captive for so long. Any thought that You have, which would hold You back from doing what God has called You to do…You have to let them go.

Think about Peter walking on the water towards Jesus. He only sank when he began to fear. When we start thinking about how walking on water is possible in our own might; when we start thinking about the things of this world that could possibly sink us (winds and waves), our faith becomes weak and we sink. We must focus on Jesus. (Matthew 14:28-31)

Doubt can be equated to fear. The Bible says, “For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” – James 1:6 (HCSB)

Jesus is telling us that the impossible in our own might is possible by focusing on—and trusting in—Him. We have to believe that as He guides us in one step, there will be provision there…and the next step, and so on. Walking on water is possible when we remember who told us to do it in the first place.

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Today, I hope You take sometime to briefly think about the thing(s) God told You to do. Remember the place God told You to go—or stay. And be obedient—despite the opinions of the world and Your flesh. There’s so much peace, love, provision, and guidance waiting and available to You, if You would just have the faith and courage to take the first step in obedience.

Forget about EVERY opinion, and FOCUS on God.

 My Short Testimony:

I was a professional basketball player—and a big contributor for my team in Spain a little over a year ago. This past December, I had various teams reach out, asking me to come play for them. We’re talking some cool places: Czech Republic, Denmark, amongst a few others. I politely declined every offer because I trusted God and I knew I was doing what He told me to do—write and rest. People looked at me like I was crazy to turn those offers down, like I was making the wrong decision. Yes, even my family. But what looks right to the world can be the wrong choice in the Lord. Good opportunities are cool, but God direction and opportunities are BETTER. Remember, You live with the consequences of the decisions You make. When Your choices reflect other peoples opinions, You live with the outcome and not them. My decision reflected what God told me to do, and I have never experienced such joy, peace, and comfort—not to mention that Philippians 4:12 contentment—, in my life.

Go where God tells You to go. Do what God tells You to do. And remember, everyone can’t go where Your going, but You being obedient and getting on Your bus, may encourage them to get on theirs—in God’s perfect timing.

 

I’m praying for You to be obedient as GOD directs You.

Love,

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Chenise xoxo

More Than Ready (Sample)

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MoreThanReadyCOVER[ROUGH DRAFT. UNEDITED. CAN CHANGE]

Dane Russell

“Don’t tell me being in the league got you putting sunscreen on,” I chuckled. “You turned high-class on me?”

“I’m not trying to burn,” Jamir said, wiping the lotion over his arms and laughing in the process.

“True. I remember that time junior year when we came here for spring break; you looked like a Lobster,” I guffawed thinking about Jamir in his Miami-green basketball shorts while his skin had a red tint. He tried to talk to so many girls that day, making all of them laugh at his sunburn while getting a couple of their numbers in the process.

“I still pulled a couple of bad chicks that day,” he started rubbing the lotion on his legs.

“Yeah. So you don’t even need this stuff.” I picked up the bottle, and then looked at Jamir whose skin was lighter than the South Beach sand—the beach we were currently chillin’ at. Supposedly, his black mom got pregnant while working for his white dad. He’d told me the story back in college.

I looked at Jamir again, “Actually, you do need this. You are kind of bright, boy.” I tossed the lotion back on top of his Nike book bag.

“Light skin is back in, fool,” He chuckled. “I’m the man in Chicago.”

“Listen, you can be whatever you want to be, just don’t ask me to rub that stuff on yo’ back,” I chortled.

Jamir was my teammate—and roommate—at The University of Miami. We went through a lot of up and downs together, but by no means was I rubbing lotion on his back.

And…how are you the man and y’all couldn’t even beat us,” I laughed, thinking about the score when we’d played the Bears. It wasn’t even close.

“That was the week I was hurt,” he put the lotion back in his navy book bag. “You know I would have put up some points against y’all weak defense.”

“Excuses,” I chuckled. “You were probably faking,” I joked. I looked down towards his ankle—the same one he injured during the season—, knowing Jamir wouldn’t sit out a game if he was healthy, especially against me. During our stint at The U we competed every practice, every sprint, and every set in the weight room. We dreamed about the NFL, so playing against each other at the highest level was an accomplishment for us both.

“Y’all defense would have bungled had I been healthy. Just wait til’ we play you again this coming season. And I hope it’s at y’all crib, so when we beat you, there won’t be any excuses—no bad weather, no missed calls.” He was laughing, but I knew he was dead serious. It was the norm for Jamir and me: competition and clowning.

“We’ll see,” was all I said because I didn’t get caught up in talking a good game; I’d rather show it come August—like I did my rookie season.

“Yeah, we-” Jamir stopped midsentence. Saving his smack talk to look past me. “Oh. My. God.” It was what he let out next, making me to turn my head too.

I could see how he swallowed his tongue. We were laid out on our towels, near the water, and walking near us were two fine girls. It was plenty of women around us, but these two were Jamir’s favorite word: bad.

Back in the day, I would have gone for the caramel skin girl on the right. She was wearing a red one piece with middle and side cutouts. At a distance she didn’t look tall, but she wasn’t too short either. She was slim, but she still had enough curves. Her hair was in a bun at the top of her head, and her hoop earrings looked like they could double as bracelets.

Jamir, on the other hand, always liked chocolate girls with feisty attitudes. I warned him about being drawn to a bad attitude—since every once and a while I had to deal with Tracey’s—, but he would always say, “I like what I like.” I was sure that the shorter brown skin girl walking on the left was more his speed. Her curvaceous body was barely covered in a pink two-piece; her hair was straight and covering her shoulders. She walked with sass like she knew she looked good…well, because she did.

They both were beautiful, both were looking at Jamir and me like they were interested…and that’s when Whitney’s face flooded my brain like a typhoon.

I turned towards Jamir, my back facing the two attractive women. “Yo. What you doing, D?” His voice was higher. “They walking away.”

I was still facing him, not really knowing what to say. “I can’t.”

“What you mean, you can’t,” he chuckled, still following the girls with his eyes before he actually looked at me. “I know the ladies loved your hair before you cut it, but don’t worry, your face ain’t that bad, Bruh,” he joked.

I snickered, rubbing my low cut. “I got a girl.”

So…” Jamir said it like it was a casual announcement.

“What you mean, so?”

“That never stopped you before. You were the one who always said it’s good to have options just in case your main messes up.” He was telling the truth. I did say dumb stuff freshman year—when I was still a teenager, but thought I knew everything.

“I know I said that…five years ago. But it don’t even matter because she’s not messing up. I just have to make sure I don’t mess up.”

His eyelids were wider. “Naw…Not my boy…Not Great Dane,” he started laughing.

Chill.”

“I can’t chill. You just turned down some of thee baddest girls I’ve seen all week,” he chuckled, “because you have…a girl…and you’re afraid of messing up?”

“You haven’t seen my girl,” I said seriously. The girls on the beach looked good, but Whitney was gorgeous, flat out.

“Show me,” he said, eyeing my iPhone lying next to me on my blue beach towel.

I didn’t have to scroll down my photos for long; Whitney’s last picture in my phone was a mirror pic she took at the mall. She was trying on a yellow dress, and asking if I liked how it looked on her.

“This is Whitney.” I handed my phone to Jamir who lifted his fist to his mouth, eyeing her. If he wasn’t my best friend I would have checked him on that.

“So where’s another picture. You know one pic ain’t enough,” he chuckled, handing me the phone. “And is this the same girl you were telling me about before?”

I found the picture of Whitney and Blair at Disneyworld—with their Mickey Mouse hats on—, before I handed the phone back to Jamir.

“Yeah. That’s her.” He grabbed the phone.

“Dane, you really like her…” He paused for a second, looking at the picture again. “She met my God-daughter and everything.”

“I told you that.” I sniggered at his shocked facial expression.

“Tracey know about this?”

“Yeah, man. I’m not keeping her a secret,” I thought about how short Tracey had been since Chuck E. Cheese.

“She must have thee best-”

“Chill!” I already knew what he was getting at.

“I’m just saying. I never heard you talk about a female like this. She gotta have that-”

“We haven’t done that yet.” I figured I’d tell him sooner or later. Knowing Jamir, he was going to bug me about Whitney until I gave him some specific information—information I really couldn’t give. “She wants to wait to have sex.”

I didn’t think Jamir’s eyes could get bigger. “Waiting for what? Y’all together right?” His eyebrows looked like they were fighting each other for the middle space on his forehead.

“Yeah, but–”

“But what?” He looked confused.

“She’s waiting til’ marriage,” I finally admitted before Jamir cut me off.

He chuckled for a minute, until he realized I was serious. “And you are too?”

I paused for a minute, thinking about the way Whitney told me months ago: she was waiting for marriage. I was basically begging her to come inside my apartment by then, confident that seat belts and armrests couldn’t keep us off of each other if I got her to come back to my bed. She was perfect, our dates were perfect, and I wanted to wake up the next morning…perfect. When she told me she was waiting to have sex until she was married it surprised me. My mouth was dry and I couldn’t think of anything to say. My mind, though, was analyzing her statement.

Plenty of girls said things they didn’t mean. So I’d looked at her for a few seconds, kissed her again, and waited for her to fold, but she was serious. She—it—was on lockdown. It wasn’t like Whitney was a virgin, which made me even more dumbfounded. My mama and pops used to lecture me about it all the time when I was younger, but I didn’t think people still waited.

Not really knowing how to feel about her decision, I was still silent after she pulled back from my lips. But when Whitney was about to leave my truck with an attitude because of my response—or lack thereof—, something in me, something about her, willed me to speak. Something about her being upfront about what she believed in made me want her even more. Not just physically, but seriously. She gained my respect, and I knew right then that I wanted to give her my last name.

“Yo?” Jamir grabbed my attention. “Are you waiting, D?”

I thought about his question; the answer was simple.

“Yeah; I love her.”

More Than Ready is the second book in the More Than… Series.

Coming soon to the Amazon Kindle market.

More Than Ready (Sample)

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[ROUGH DRAFT. UNEDITED, CAN CHANGE]

“Stop playing, Dane!” I yelled out, as he carried me effortlessly in his arms toward the ocean meeting the shore. “I know it’s freezing and I won’t be able to see what’s swimming past me!”

Dane chortled at my antics, “Man, you supposed to be from South America; y’all swim in the ocean all the time. I told you, you can’t be my girl and act scary.” He jerked my body forward pretending he was about to toss me into the very shallow water, laughing endlessly as my arms clung tighter around his neck. It was dark out, the ocean water was more than likely cold, and I had on a beautiful black dress that I did not want to get wet.

“First off, we do have the Caribbean Sea, which I still would not swim in at night. Second, I’m not from Venezuela, my parents are. I grew up going to Corpus beaches, aka the Gulf of Mexico, and I don’t even like swimming in that water during the day. I mean it’s not as bad as Galveston, but it’s not the Caribbean Sea, either.”

“Sadity girl,” Dane joked.

“Says the guy who grew up in Miami.”

He tilted his head at my comment, “I’ll take you to the Miami I’m from. This,” He turned towards the restaurant we’d just dinned at on Ocean drive, “ain’t it. You might see First 48 cameras recordin’ in my hood.”

“Ok. So maybe I am sadity,” I twisted my lip up playfully. “Then what?”

“The first step is admitting the problem,” Dane laughed, turning back towards the ocean. I almost forgot I was in his arms; he was so strong, holding me as if I was as light as a feather.

“Only problem I have is you,” I joked, smacking my lips. I stared in his sweet honey eyes, lost for a moment. We’d opted to walk along the beach after dessert instead of heading home, taking our shoes off and feeling the sand seep between our toes. Dane’s favorite Jordan’s rested near by—my sandals too. But we weren’t worried about them. He was gazing at me too, longingly, like he missed me already even though I was resting contently in his arms.

I soaked in the moment; the stars were like glitter plastered upon the dark night sky. The smell of sea salt was no match for the cologne Dane wore—my favorite woodsy scent in his vast collection. The water lapping the shore was rhythmic and beautifully melodic. And the breeze garnered my attention, sending chills down my spine…along with Dane. Even in the limited night light he was still as handsome as he was during the illumination of day, his fitted hat sitting low. I grabbed it and placed it on my head, sweeping my wand curls over my shoulders, nearly melting as he grinned at me.

“Best problem to have,” he said softly, as he met me somewhere in the middle of our close proximity to express himself in a kiss. The moments we shared joking, laughing, and just being ourselves made me fall for him harder. Then, the times he kissed me as if his life depended on it made me believe his promise; he was ready for this.For us.

He removed his lips from mine and looked at my flustered expression that he had caused. “Sadity girls can’t wear fitteds,” Dane snickered, removing his hat from my head and easing it back onto his own.

Really? So what do I wear then, Sabelotodo?” I pursed my lips out, wanting to hear what joke he would cackle at.

A smile,” He charmed, nearly against my lips before kissing me again.

“Te amo Cariño,” I eventually proclaimed.

“I love you too; even if you are sadity. You’re my Sadity,” he giggled.

MORE THAN READY will be available for purchase on Amazon early May.

Winning Today: Being Intentional About God

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HEY!

Gosh, it feels like it’s been so long since I last blogged. Technically, it has been a long time—over two months to be exact. While I wanted to blog sooner, being obedient to God comes first and foremost. I only blog when I feel like God is leading me to.

With that said, it feels GREAT to be back y’all.

God has been showing me things, and I have truly been growing in this amazing relationship with Him. I feel like February and March were months of just God and me. While there were times I had to get some things in order,  on the whole they were months of REST and GROWTH.

 

You already know the deal by now—if You’re a regular here—, I try to be as transparent as possible. God doesn’t want a bunch of people pretending to be perfect. He wants people who love their neighbors enough to share their weak moments just like their highs, in hopes that it will help uplift and restore. Testimony is POWERFUL. Any who, at the very beginning of this year I really dealt with this thing I like to call Martha Syndrome.

I describe Martha Syndrome as the habit of worrying about our tasks so much that we spend countless hours doing so much, only to miss spending time with Jesus.

Well, where did I get that definition? Read Luke 10:38-42. Jesus traveled to a village and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. Martha’s sister was there too, and she sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him speak. Martha, on the other hand, was distracted by her tasks.

When I first read that story I remember thinking about Martha missing Jesus because she was so concerned with her tasks—how crazy. Who would miss a chance to sit at Jesus’ feet? But then the Holy Spirit was like, “Hold up, that’s you too.” I paused for a second, thinking about my Martha Syndrome and how that small story in the Bible reflected my life appropriately.

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 How many of us have continuously missed our savior because we were too distracted by our to-do lists?

 

Let’s look at Luke 10:40-42 HCSB

40But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”

41The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, 42but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”

 

Martha was so sidetracked by her tasks (errands, jobs, assignments) that she asked to Jesus to tell her sister to help. Can you picture that? Mary doing the right thing and Martha so distraught about the wrong things that she vents to the Lord about the choice Mary made. Wow.

Jesus says that Martha’s “worried and upset about many things”(Luke 10:41 HCSB).

How worried and upset have You been when You put temporary things before Jesus? When we have a ton of stuff on our to-do lists are we more concerned with the tasks, or our Lord? It reminds me of that saying, “Know God, know peace. No God, no peace.” It’s powerful, but vague in a sense. It almost seems like if you know God you’ll have this all-time peace automatically, but I believe knowing God is a reoccurring experience.

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Everyday there’s something that God wants to share with us, but are we too distracted to listen?

Ok back to the scripture: Luke 10:42 says, “but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I love that: sitting at Jesus’ feet is the right choice, and it will not be taken away from You.

 

When I meditated on that scripture, God was just like:

 

When You spend time with me it will never be taken away from You. The to-do list that You have will be completed better than You could’ve done it before because You made the right choice. And that time You spent in my presence will not be taken away from You; You’ll still have time to finish it all as I lead You.”

 

God is so good. He doesn’t want us to worry about our job, our errands, or our assignments. He wants us to spend time with Him and listen to Him speak!

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I wish I could say that was the end of that lesson, BUT it wasn’t. Around mid February and most of March I changed. I was no longer suffering from Martha Syndrome; I was dealing with a long bout of procrastination. We all have been there; that procrastination bug is something else! I was putting stuff off left and right. I was counting tomorrow like it was guaranteed.

 

The Bible (James 4:13-14 HCSB) warns us about that:

 

13Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes. 15Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. 16But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.

 

This scripture can speak to the procrastination we often find ourselves in; we make plans tomorrow all the time. How many of us—because of procrastination—count tomorrow to do the good things we know we should do today? My procrastination was so bad that I got a $ 140 ticket from expired tags (they expired in February, and it was March). God provided, but let me tell you when that procrastination finally caught up to me it did not feel good at all. How many things have you put off because you counted tomorrow—and the next day, and the next day?

 

So where’s the happy medium?

That happy place—where You’re not worried about to-do lists, or procrastinating and counting the next day to do things—is in God. I’ve been so content with letting God lead me. Some days that might mean I’m spending hours with Him and then I go and do things as I’m directed. Other days I rest, as God tells me to. That doesn’t mean you just up and stop going to work, school, etc.—be God led, not emotionally driven. Remember we work as if we are working for the Lord.

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Winning each day means that we submit it to God first and carry out tasks as He leads us.

 

If you don’t know what God is telling you to do, then that’s even more of a reason to sit at His feet and get to know Him—His character; His voice; His love. In another post I briefly mentioned my bible study, Bold Beautiful Believers. We have started an Intentional Challenge for two months. Basically, we’re making an intentional effort to stop worrying about the tasks and distractions of this world and sit before God and seek Him, everyday. I journal, pray, and spend time READING THE BIBLE. I’m on day 15—of course I keep track for accountability—and I can’t even explain how excited I am when I wake up to spend time with my Abba! It’s awesome to see how much I’ve grown over time. I tried Heather Lindsey’s Journal Challenge years ago and struggled to spend time with God for three consecutive days, but now I am so pumped to make it to two months—faith it to make it!

 

Here’s a useful link for the Intentional Challenge: How to Spend Time with God

 

With that said, join us!

Use the contact page to send me your email address so we can keep each other accountable. We are walking together; You are not alone. I can’t wait to hear from you.

Oh yeah, the beach photos are my hope for better Michigan weather lol

Love You & God Bless You,

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Chenise xoxo

Coincidental Love (Sample)

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RoseVintage2Enjoy this sample of Coincidental Love—a novella going live at the beginning of March :).

I’d caught myself like this at least seven times now. Leaning over the front counter, with my hand supporting my chin. Every once and a while I’d glance at my clear polished nails as I awaited the busy flow of the lunch crowd. Anticipating had its slow moments, so here I was, daydreaming again. Before, I’d think about the guy of my dreams—a man so perfect that he didn’t seem to exist outside of my mind. But it wasn’t until he walked into my spot that I’d replaced that imaginary man with visions of him over and over again. I felt like I was reliving Alicia Keys’ video—crushing on the guy who came to her diner faithfully. However, the difference was that I’d seen the real Mr. perfect once, and one time only.

He strolled in during the fall wearing a Nike sweat suit, black running shoes, and a beard that made my heart palpitate. I understood why ‘no shave November’ was such a good idea. His beard was neat, short, and thick, yet it couldn’t hide his full lips. I stared at his mouth and listened to his deep voice—entranced by his aura—before I realized I hadn’t entered anything he ordered into the computer. When I asked him again he requested The Greenery, my favorite smoothie containing lots of leafy veggies and green fruits. He was handsome and fit, two things that were on my potential husband list without compromise. The stranger beamed at me, freezing my thoughts. A nice smile was one of the things that always made me weak. His teeth were perfect; his skin was the same shade as brown sugar. I wondered if he was as sweet, or if he just looked the part.

Words escaped my vocabulary, and all I could do was stare at him. By the time my literacy kicked in, prompting me to say something—anything—our lunch crowd poured in, and he seemed to be in a hurry. It was such a tease, but even with the smiles we exchanged there was a connection I couldn’t ignore. It was evident  in his auburn brown eyes. It made me remember my Grandmother’s constant preaching, “Baby, you can always tell if a person is lying by looking into their eyes. Whatever you need to know will be clear by the way they look at you.” I was young when she let me in on that little secret, not really knowing how she could find out all she needed to know just by looking at someone. But at 27, I finally knew what she was lecturing about. When I looked into that mystery guy’s eyes, I didn’t detect deceit. Call me naïve, but he stared at me as if to say, “yes, I am real, and what you see is what you get.” From that point forward I couldn’t get him out of my mind; I was imagining what other truths his stare would bring about.