10 Ways to Display Grace

 

Grace has been defined in many different ways. When we talk about God’s grace we think of His giving us His Son for our salvation. My favorite definition for God’s grace is: God giving us what we don’t deserve. We deserved the punishment of Hell, but God graciously bestowed on us the gift of His Son. So knowing about God’s grace causes us to seek to know just how to show grace to others.

1.Showing Grace With Words

When speaking with people you should use words that are kind and gentle. Obviously there are times we need to correct other people, but it never has to be done in a hateful or mean-spirited way. Find a way to gently say what needs to be said.

Can you help someone in some small way?

2.Look for the Needs of Others

Can you help someone in some small way? Holding a door for someone whose arms are full can be a small action that helps in a great way. If you will seek out little actions you can do for others it will help you become a more graceful person. Don’t just look for opportunities to fulfill monumental needs. Our ability to change other people’s lives with large financial donations or heroic actions are seldom within our grasp, but we can affect people every day with simple kindnesses.

  1. Respond With Grace

Have you been criticized by someone? Even unjustly? You don’t have to let others walk over you, but you can respond in a gracious way. Accept what they have to say and thank them for their input. The news they bring you may upset you and hurt you deeply. The way you respond can help the healing begin immediately. A quick response with anger will leave you seething. But the sooner you can respond with a smile and a calm spirit the sooner you will be able to see the truth in their words and make the changes that need to be made.

4.Graceful Presence

Take opportunities to be with someone in a time of grief. They don’t need you to deliver some special speech or do anything grand for them and the family. Your presence may be all that is needed to show you love them.

Funerals and hospital stays are times when you can make a quick visit that will leave an impact in someone’s life. You don’t have to spend hours with them, but they do want to know you care and that you are thinking of them. Even if it is just a 10 minute visit, stopping by to say hello can mean the world to them in their time of physical or emotional pain.

5.Forgive With Grace

When someone asks forgiveness, accept their apology graciously. They have come to you humbly asking for your pardon. That is not a time to tell them why they should have done so much sooner. Nor is it an appropriate time to correct them and tell them how they could have handled the situation better. If you are in a teaching or authoritative position over the person and you need to give them advice that will help them in the future, separate your advice from your forgiveness. Allow them to see you have accepted their apology and then later share with them the correction and direction they need.

6.Learn to say “I’m Sorry.”

When you make a mistake, swallow your pride and ask for forgiveness. Maybe they wronged you in some way but you responded inappropriately. You can ask them to forgive you for your response. Remember grace is giving to the other person what they don’t deserve. Even if, in your opinion, they don’t deserve an apology, you can ask their forgiveness for your wrong response.

7.Keep Short Accounts

When you need to apologize, do it quickly. Don’t keep a running total of how many times they have done wrong towards you. Forgive, even if they don’t ask for it. Grace can go a long way to repairing a relationship if you will respond in a loving way, even when they don’t.

8.Clean Up Your Language

Beyond using gentle words with those around you, be careful how you express yourself. Do you have some words in your vocabulary that shouldn’t be there? There may be some words you say that aren’t really “bad” words, but the way you say them express the same feelings as your co-worker’s curse words. Be careful with substitute curse words. Even if you aren’t saying the same thing, you mean exactly the same emotions as others who use the real words.

9.Say Thank You To Show Grace To Others

Take time to say “thank you.” It doesn’t cost anything, but it can show other people gratitude and grace. Write a simple card expressing your appreciation for a kind act on your behalf. You can make a difference by putting a “thank you” on your lips and a card in someone’s hand.

8.Take Interest in Others

Certainly it is appropriate to respond to questions when people ask you about yourself, but try to ask a few questions of your own and learn about other people. Let people talk about themselves—then be interested in their response.

Have you seen the movie Fireproof? The man in the story wins his wife back and repairs his marriage by acting graciously towards her. Her actions and reactions were horrible, yet he continued to try and be gracious. Their marriage was restored because of the gracious actions of the husband. Who can you be gracious towards today?

Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”Seeds of Faith

What Do I do with the Love?

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What do you do with the love when you come to the end of a relationship?  What happens to all the love that you’ve accumulated over the years of endless phone conversations,  financial bail-outs, late-night phone calls when you can’t sleep, boyfriend break-up, divorces, pitch hit baby-sitter when you have that appointment that you absolutely must attend and who could forget that girlfriend who knows just what to say to you before you jump off the building?  She has been to your go to person.  She is your S.I.C. or G.I.C. sister in charge or girlfriend in charge.  You can’t imagine navigating a life without her.  After all you talk to her more than you talk to your own husband.  I, too had a SIC.  As I write this, I can’t believe that I’m giving voice to the emptiness in my heart. I truly don’t know what to do with the love that I still have.

I don’t claim to know everything about women.  But, I’ve been around a few and I’ve heard tales of broken friendships and how one friend betrayed another.  We’ve all experienced or know someone who has crossed the lines with a boyfriend or husband that you’ve trusted.  But, the betrayal of a friendship when someone has walked so closely with you is the ultimate in betrayal.  In the beginning you looked for signs of deceit, you may have even tested her loyalties, and you even dared trusted her around your “man” yet she passed with flying colors.  Because of your insecurity you may have tested her periodically until one day you are convinced she is tried and true.  So you relax.  Years go by and the friendship is consistent.  There may be some minor hiccups, but this is your sister/friend and you’re able to move on without skipping a beat.  You and your sister friend are so interwoven together that others accept her because of your love for her.  In fact, there have been  times where other women have become jealous and tried to threaten or manipulate your relationship.  But, you two were smart, you even saw through that.  You both dared to be different. You prided yourself on not being “female”, manipulative or catty.  You’ve even spoken to your lesser friends on how to be the perfect sister/friend.  So how could this relationship go wrong?

If truth is to be told, many women have hidden agendas.  And if you are a female you may recall a time when it was you.  When I started Leading Ladies it was out of a desire to truly connect women together.  It was to demystify that we couldn’t trust each other.  I wanted a group of women who could be honest with each other and table and be able to walk away and come back as if nothing ever happened because we are GROWN WOMEN!  Sadly, my attempts were not accomplished.  I took a solemn oathe to be real with these women and I can tell you honestly, I didn’t know what that meant at the time.  I found myself opening up more than I ever wanted to.  You see there are some things I would love to just keep in the closet.  Little by little the Lord started picking me to share certain things.  I hadn’t planned on being that candid.  I wanted to expose these women to something new, but God wanted to expose me to something new.  He reminded me that I couldn’t get these women to trust each other if they couldn’t trust me.  So I opened, and I poured.  I exposed my feelings, my thoughts, my life, my marriage and my career.  It was the greatest lesson in growth and development that I continue to glean from today.  I pledged myself to any of these women who were willing to let me into their lives.  My single goal was to truly be a sister/friend.  I’m not perfect, but I can go to the creator knowing that this one thing I did well.  My favorite saying is that if there is anyone that will be wrong in the relationship, it won’t be me.  I practice intentionally on being a sister/friend.  I support, I show-up.  I study and learn my role.  I embody sister/friend in my relationships and one such lady was a benefactor of it.  I GAVE HER ME!

I have lived in my head most of my life.  It’s a place that I have found refuge from being an awkward child.  In my head I could be anyone but me.  But it was her, that showed me that life exists outside of my head.  My sister/friend came to me when I needed someone to hold up my world.  I didn’t even know that I was juggling the world.  It was my normal.  She graciously walked into my life and said, “God said for me to be your armour-bearer.”  I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but I got the jist of it.  Slowly she began to show me that there is someone you can trust with your soul.  I learn to share mine with hers.  Years of pain and hurt that I didn’t know I had began to be peeled away.  I became naked with my dreams and my fears.  Her ears heard many of my triumphs and struggles.  Never once, did she give me a hint of any negative energy in anything I said or did.  She also made me want to be a better friend.

I recalled the day that I told her that my mom would die.  These were her  next words,”I’M ON MY WAY” as I type this post my eyes are filled with tears because they were the most healing words that I think I have ever heard.  All I know is that I needed her there.  She was there with me when my mother took her last breath.  That’s what sister/friends do.  That’s what she does.  She had mastered such a level of understanding me that was simply AMAZING.  She was God’s gift to me or my armour-bearer and she once said.  I can fill an entire book of what this lady means to me.  I am intimately aware of what gifts come from God and how they are to be respected and treated.  I would never discount and devalue the love that was given to me.  I know that God was the source and she was the vehicle.

So what happens when the relationship has ended?  When this person has hurt you so deeply and they have managed to show you what you have been afraid of all your life; losing love. And that your love doesn’t count.  How does your betrayed heart beat with a new rhythm?  How do you navigate the world with her?  What happens when you need oxygen and she was the one that put the oxygen mask on you?  Who do you call in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep and she answers the phone like she was anticipating your call?  Who will you tell your husband secrets to when the world advises you to keep your marriage private?  For me, this person doesn’t exist anymore. Some would say our  “season” was up. I would never be convinced of this.  She knows and I know that this was not how our friendship was to go down.  There was nothing Godly in this breakup.  And for those who says seasons change, I would offer that they do, but there is always seasons to replant.

That brings me back to what do I do with the love?  Despite the hurt and the pain my love still remains.  I love her today as I did last year.  I wish and pray the best.  She will always be one of the greatest part of me. I have a love that deserves to be shared.  It’s a love that I crave to experience for myself.

I Wanna Know What Love Is

I can remember when I first heard the song, “I wanna know what love is.” I’m sure I said to myself what so many others have said.  “Me too!”  Finding love in this world has become such a daunting task.  Or maybe it isn’t.  After all, we have television shows like the Bachelor and the Bachelorette who find love in a few episodes.  Only in America can we endorse a man having his pick of many women and all vying for his heart.  What kind of love is that?

From a little girl, I dreamed of finding my prince.  I knew that he would whisk me away to some perfect place and we would have our 3.2 perfect children.  I would be a hot at-home mom and he would love me forever.  I guess it’s safe to assume that it never happened that way.  In fact, most of my life, I have been unlucky at love.  Sure, I have found men to fall in love with me.  Each of them always wanted marriage soon after dating.  I was and am the marrying kind.  But, I was never happy.  After each  failed marriage, I knew then what I had known when I walked down the aisle;I shouldn’t be doing this.  The Christian girl in me always wanted to do the right thing.  But, deep inside, I knew that it was that I wanted to be able to say I did the right thing.  No one ever taught me how to love.  I just fell willy nilly into relationships.  My mom was a product of an accident she was told regarding her birth.  Her mother was young when she had her so she was raised by her  maternal grandmother.  Her grandmother  was uneducated and the fund of her knowledge was picking cotton.  There was very little in the development of families during that time in south.  Just trying to survive daily on the plantation was all that many could do.  My mom, like her mom, got pregnant early.  My dad, married and raised my mom is what he would say.  They too, were children and didn’t know much about love. So it was a cycle that was perpetuated.  When my older sister was born my father did what many black men did during the era, the got married.  Our society teaches us that many men didn’t own up to their responsibilities back then.  I don’t firmly believe this.  Many men during this time, did get married.  Although my parent and  my parent’s parents didn’t have a Dr. Phil or an Oprah to tell them how to love they  went on instincts and I guess somehow that was passed down to me.  I knew how to be responsible.  If I had sex, that meant get married.  However, I lack the social skills, ingenuity, spirituality, and emotional capability to make any of those relationships work.  I had a form of godliness, but no true God.

I found myself in my current marriage, desiring love.  I knew my husband loved me.  I knew that if he had his way we would be together forever, but I wanted him to LOVE ME!!!!   The difference between love me and LOVE ME I hadn’t a clue.  The sad part to that statement is that I truly had no idea what that meant.  I remember having a conversation with my husband and him asking me how could he not love me?  He asked,   What is it that I am doing that makes you think that I don’t love you?  All I could say is that I know that you love me, but I need you to love me.  It doesn’t make sense, right?  It doesn’t make sense, but it was what I meant.   For days I kept asking myself what do I want.  I tried to make lists of things he could do, but nothing I wrote every amounted to him LOVING ME.  You see, I didn’t want him to kiss me more, or wine and dine me, although those things were nice.  I didn’t want a new car or a big fancier house. All I knew is I wanted something from him and he wasn’t giving it to me.  I started to become bitter.  How could he not know what I needed?  Why couldn’t he just fix me?  After, all I got him where he is.  Being all happy and stuff.  Why couldn’t he make me just as happy as he was?  My days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years.  I wasn’t happy and I wanted out!

One day as I contemplated the  Mr. new guy who would give me exactly what I was looking for, I tried to imagine what he would be doing differently.  I couldn’t conjure up one image of what that  love looked like.  I slowly beginning  to realize that the problem might be me.  It was sobering.  I had blamed my husband for my unhappiness.  I wanted him to save me, but I could never tell him what the danger was.  I had all these expectations, yet no real visuals for the expectation.  Even if my husband had met my needs, I would have never  recognized it.  I had pushed love away many times because I stood asking, I wanna know what love is.  It’s like standing in the ocean and saying I wish I had water.  Love was all around me yet I couldn’t see it.  The best way that I can explain this is if you have ever lived by an airport or a railroad track, in time your mind has filtered the noise and you no longer hear it.  It is only when a visitor comes that hears the plane or the train and reminds you.  Love can be that way sometimes.  You’ve had it near you, but you’ve filtered it as noise and it becomes a part of your world.  So in time, you lose the beauty of it.  You secretly long for it because you think you  either lost it or it is gone.  This is why many marriages fail.  No one has taught them to move to dry land and look back at the water.  Love has to be experienced at some point from a distance to behold the beauty of it and appreciate its value.  To be in awe of something you have to behold it.  Standing knee deep in water, you will never appreciate it.  But, once on dry land, the enormity and the vastness of the water is clearly seen.  I found love again on dry land.

My dry land came in the form of a deep separation of almost all things.  I unplugged from life.  Except for the necessary, I did nothing.  I got in touch with God.  I didn’t intentionally start with God.  I’m much too stubborn for that.  I started with all the remedies I had to fix it and when I saw that didn’t work, then I tried God.  I’m just being honest.  I learned that I would have never known what love was no matter how hard I searched.  If he was rich, cute and intelligent, godly and rich(I know I said it twice), I still wasn’t going to be happy.  The love I longed for is that one that never fails.  No man or no human could have ever filled what my spirit and heart needed.  It was designed to be filled only by the presence of God.  The love I found in God taught me to accept the love of my husband in all of its completeness.  I no longer dictate the way that my husband loves me.  It’s his love and it’s not my business to tell his love what to do.  Whew, that was a big step.  I had to trust in his love for God that would empower him to give me all the love that I needed.  We often  ask God for things and I wonder do we really think that God is going to give it us when we ask.  I asked God for a man that loves me, yet I didn’t believe.  I was waiting on a feeling.  I was waiting on the extraordinary.  I was waiting for the fairy tale.  I will let you in on a secret you probably already know; fairy tales aren’t real.  I learned this the hard way.  If you wanna know what love is, Genesis to Revelation is the greatest love story ever told.

 

Organic Sista

The Journey Back

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The journey back to you is always the longest journey.  Miles and miles you travel to find your new normal.  2015 has come and brought with it many new changes and insight.  If you are like me you are trying to navigate your way to a new place in life.  You’ve sworn that this year will be different.  You’re going to be more organized, you are finally going to lose those last 10 lbs (40 lbs) for me.  Maybe you’ve purchased a 2015 journal, and a super fancy  organizer that is sure to put you one step ahead of where you were this time last year.  Sadly, you’ve come to realize that you  haven’t begun to add one single entry.  Let’s face it.  Life happened, AGAIN!

Last November I had a spiritual moment.  It consisted of being thankful for a month.  I knew at the beginning of the month that I would be more appreciative at the end of this 30 day journey.  I enlisted my bible study group and another group that I belong to.  So for 30 days with one group and 21 days with the other we became grateful.  Boy, I did not have an idea how this would change my life.  I learned that being thankful is hard work.  So, after the first days of thanking God for my husband, kids, house, family, church, life, health and strength.  I ran out of things to be thankful for.  I was really coming up empty.  Why, because I never really practice being grateful.    It sounded so good at the beginning doing the grateful thing.  Who could not be grateful for 30 days?  I found myself looking for things to be grateful for.  It was hard.  It felt like I was cheating because I just randomly started thanking God for anything just to fulfill the obligation.  How could it be such  a struggle to thank God for what I have?  It should be easy, right?  That was the problem, I was focusing on the things that I had. I learned  it wasn’t about being thankful for the things that I have, but being  thankful for the things that God has done for me that allows me to be a partaker of this space.

This may sound crazy, but one day I remembered feeling my fingers as I woke up.  I began to trace my face with my fingers.  I raised my arms and breathed deeply.   I quickly said God thank you for the feeling in my hands. It was if this was the first time I was introduced to them.  It opened the door to the many things I ignore on a daily basis. I suddenly became aware that my feet work each day as I step out of bed.  I was conscious of everything around me.  The sun didn’t shine differently this day, yet it appeared to be made just for me.  Each day, I began to wear gratitude. Believe it or not, I didn’t just learn more about my gratitude I learned more about the  abundant grace that God affords each of us.  I look at life more differently.  I appreciate the most basic things and I marvel at the many things that bothered me that is no longer  on my radar.  I’m more patient with others and long lines are just that; long lines.

As Leading Ladies in the world we create our roads lead to many different points on the globe.  Whether you are a busy businesswoman, single-mom or a stay-at-home mom we have navigated our lives to adapt.  Why not give yourself permission to detour?    That’s why I am doing.  I’m creating new lanes and new avenues.  I’ve decided to live off-script now.  I’m no longer bound by what society dictates for me.  I’m no longer confined to the constraints of psuedo-christianity.  I am the best me!  So, no need to put me in a mold for others.

I pray that 2015 is all that you are willing to let it be.  The only limits are the limits you put on yourself.  For me, the sky is a limit.  I’m going beyond that.  Will you join me?

Organic Sista

DIY: Natural Homemade Cleaning Recipes

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I love to make my own cleaning supplies.  Walking into my home and smelling a clean fresh house after working many hours is what the doctor has in order for me.  Nothing beats the smell of fresh lemons and stimulating essential oils.  It immediately picks up my spirit and create a sense of calmness.  Visitors to my home always remark how soothing and calm my house is.  I love it when we have guests overnight and they remark, there is something about that bedroom or your house evokes peace.  The quick answer is essential oils. Nothing can quicken your spirit and sense of sensibilities as essential oil.  Whether it is lavender (my favorite) or chamomile, eucalyptus or lemongrass, these oils will ignite you.  Packed within these pure oils are essences that you will discover that are therapeutic and mood provoking.   So here’s one of my cleaning recipes.

All Purpose Cleaner

4 oz of Castille Soap

12 oz of distilled water

1/8 cup of lemon or vinegar

10 drops of your favorite essential oil

I use this all purpose cleaner on my kitchen counter tops  and bathroom.  The castille is a very mild soap yet it cleansing properties are amazing.  I add vinegar or lemon (and sometimes both) to give the soap some astringent properties to cut through grime and grease.

Organic Sista

A Season For Colds & Flu?

 

For the past two months I have been dealing with a cold and a dry persistent cough.  Each cold has occurred after flying on an airplane and has left residual symptoms.  Well, today it got me to thinking after receiving an email about coughs.  In American we have declared October to May, Flu season.  Wow!  A whole season dedicated to being sick.  Only in American do we do this.  The more I thought about it.  The more I wondered why flu gets a season.  We don’t have eczema season or broken leg season.  Yet, during the summer we see a rise in eczema and in the spring we see more kids with broken legs (sports related), but we don’t call it a season.  You know why?  There is no big money in eczema or broken leg season.  You see it would be hard to get the shelves of our drug stores lined with broken leg or skin rash treatments because we don’t have a wide variety of these options.  There are only a few creams that typically treat eczema and a broken leg requires a cast.

Who ever created “flu season” was a marketing genius.  If we fool the people into thinking that there is a season for it, we can create a wide variety of drugs to treat it.  This marketing strategy is so genius that we have created medication just for the signs and symptoms of cold. Think about it, in no other condition do we treat just the symptoms per se.   As a naturalist, I look to natural remedies for cold and flu, but the last time I got sick, my hubby threatened me and I caved in and went to the drug store for a cure.  LOL.   It had been awhile since I’d been on the cold/flu isle in the drug store.  When I say my choices, the look of sheer panic was in my eyes.  How could I choose?  There were too many medications to choose from.  If I chose the medication with dry eyes, runny nose then I wouldn’t be treated with the one for the dry cough.  If I got the medication that had cough suppressant, sneezing and itchy nose, then I couldn’t get the one with the aches and pain.  And let’s not forget whether or not I needed with sleeping aid or without drowsiness.  Now why would I want to be drowsy with the flu?  Wouldn’t I want to be awake or asleep?  Somehow being drowsy with the flu would probably make me feel worse; to have the flu and couldn’t sleep would irritate me more.   I settled for the Tylenol Theraflu.  It was back on the market after being removed and this always made me feel better years ago even if it did not do anything to treat me.  It’s like chicken soup.  Somehow it makes you feel better taking it when you are sick.

As I began to read the email that I received about the different kinds of cough, I begin thinking about my own persistent cough.  It has become a growing concern for me as I interacted with the public.  My coughing has become an attention grabber, especially at restaurants.  With the anxiety level of everyone due to Ebola, I am looked at more suspiciously as my coughing spells takes center stage.  I can’t explain to everyone that looks at me that my coughing spells are a side effect of a new medication that my doctor put me on to treat another condition and that while I have discontinued that medication that I have no guarantee that this cough will go away. Thank you modern medicine.  I continually fight with my family, friends and doctors when it comes to treating certain conditions.  My answer is the same, a cold and the flu will go away if left untreated.  For those of you who will say that the cold will turn into the flu if left untreated, this is not medically true.  A cold is a different virus from the flu.  The cold does not mutate to the flu.  The flu is the flu.  Our society has been filled with unfounded beliefs and because my grandmother and your grandmother do not hold MD degrees then their old wives, homebrews, and concoctions cannot possibly work.  Never mind the “white lightening” that your grandmother gave you that cut the cold in half the time and as we say “pulled the cold right out of you.”  Or the gin, lemon and honey that stop you from coughing up a lung.  Who’s to say that Echinacea didn’t treat the cold that you had or the cold liver oil that made you spend an evening in the bathroom wasn’t therapeutic?

Since we don’t have a cure for the cold conventionally or homeopathically, your choice of treatment is whatever works for your body’s chemistry.  I personally believe that virus/bacteria in, virus/bacteria out.  If some foreign or toxic substance has invaded my body, I try to employ every avenue to rid my body of it.  For me the pathway to least resistance is to remove through the bowels.  Whether it is an enema, colonic, vomiting the key is to remove the offense from the body. Supportive care with something that will soothe sore throat (honey) and relieve congestion (aromatherapy) and balanced nutrition (chicken soup) are my go to remedies.  I haven’t bought into the Flu season.  Just a few weeks ago, a friend and I attended a craft fair and you wouldn’t believe someone was there selling flu shots.  I’m like; you have to be kidding me.  Really?  A Flu shot at a craft fair. It really is big business.  I can’t go anywhere or watch television without someone urging me to take a Flu Shot.  This is big business and we all are embracing it.  If each year there is a new strain of the flu virus, please help me understand that by injected the strain from the year before will help me with the new strand for the current year.  (Buyer Beware.)

Here is a  really cool, free way to prevent the cold and flu.  WASH YOUR HANDS!  This has still proven to be the most effective prevention.  These viruses can only infect if you place contaminated hands in eyes, nose or mouth.  So take the extra precaution and wash hands.  When coming into contact with inanimate surfaces clean the areas and then disinfect.  This is important and why I will digress for a moment.

Hand sanitizers are not efficient at keeping you protected from colds and the flu.  Hand sanitizers are usually made with alcohol and gel.  The alcohol is the only active ingredient in the sanitizer.  The gel and the other ingredients are just fillers.  To effectively clean the hand the sanitizer needs to be at least 62% alcohol. While many say that they have 62% alcohol one must argue that with all the added ingredients are you getting at least 62% alcohol. Additionally there is a required time that it has to be on the hand in order to clean.   All bacteria may not be dead.  This will give you a false sense of security.

To enlighten you on a much needed conversation, there is a difference between cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and antibacterialization.  For an object to be disinfected or sanitized is needs to be cleaned first because these types of cleaners work best on clean surfaces.  So the surface area needs to be cleaned first.  This is why I struggle with hand sanitizers and to the dismay of my friends who know that I won’t accept hand sanitizers at lunch when offered because I know the truth.  I would much rather use soap and good fashion water.  The CDC maintains that hand sanitizers are good when soap and water are not an option.

To get back to my coughing situation, I found myself in the store after a gentleman darted his eyes at me in a restaurant and with his eyes said do you have Ebola. I was out of town this past weekend and did not have my usual homemade remedies.  As I perused the shelves at Wal-Mart ( I was out of town)  for a cough suppressant I was paralyzed with what cough suppressants to take.  I mean I literally couldn’t make up my mind because if I bought one bottle that treated this type of cough then I would I miss out on the other benefits of the other medication.  What is one to do in situations like this?  I closed my eyes and I picked one.  What could possible go wrong.  All of them must work since they are on the shelf, right?

It never occurred to me during this pressure to take a cough syrup that I was trying to treat something that I already knew the origin of.  I was trying to suppress something that I know I should never suppress.  A cough is a God designed event to get rid of something that is in the respiratory tract that should not be there.  Why would I cave into the pressure of pleasing someone else at the expense of my health?  How many of us flock to the drug store because we do not want to be one coughing or sneezing at work.  We all know that it is annoying to others.  Rather than sympathy, we excommunicate others and treat people like they have the plague when they have the flu.  As I sit and type, I’m thinking that a cough is a reminder that God built my body to heal itself.  I’m also reminded that my cold or a cough doesn’t make me sick.  It’s just a condition to my environment.  So, I am not in a season.  Because I don’t live in a bubble, things happen.  I won’t give a cold or flu the credit this year.  In fact, I will largely ignore it.  Just because it’s here doesn’t mean I have to acknowledge it.

Organic Sista

Certified Grade A Shea Butter

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The 12th Annual International Shea Butter Convention

The 12th Annual International Shea Butter Convention

 The American Shea Butter Institute hosted its annual Shea Butter Convention this past weekend in Atlanta, GA and I was there.  I taught a class on the advances of Shea Butter beyond skin and haircare.  In the United States, Shea Butter is only used for cosmetic purposes, but there is a wide variety of other uses of shea butter.  Did you know much of the chocolate that is produced in Europe contains shea butter?  Shea Butter has similar chemical properties of cocoa.  There are many edible oils that are produced, imported or exported in the USA, sadly shea butter is not one of them. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has rated shea butter as GRAS or  “Generally Recognized as Safe”  and  can be used in confectionery coatings or fillings, in the US, but using it as a viable alternative in chocolate has not been fully explored.    While Europe has used shea butter as an  alternative to replace cocoa  in ‘chocolate’ products the US has not followed suit. In fact it  has not allowed it.  As one of the most versatile oils, shea butter represents only  1% of shea butter  that is currently marketed for edible oils for use in Europe and Japanese markets.   America’s 100%  use of shea butter is only used for the cosmetic industry.   What an under utilize resource for the US.  Despite its wide appeal  shea butter competes with many of the new “organic oils” that come into popularity each year and are far more inferior than shea butter.

So as one of the presenters and formulators chosen to discuss the use of 100% grade A shea butter,  I was so excited to contribute to the scientific advances of shea butter.  Many people do not realize that about 95% percent of shea butter imported into our country is uncertified, refined, and often filled with mold, mildew, fungus and  bacteria.  There are no standards set forth in the US about shea butter.  That is why it has been a mission to get Grade A Shea Butter standardize in America.  In my lecture, the Advances of Shea Butter Moving Beyond The Cosmetic Industry, I urged industry leaders to adopt, pass laws, write congress to get better protection for what we put on our skin.  Represented in the crowd were people from Nigeria, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Ghana.  Many of these delegates were producers, importers, exporters and buyers of shea butter without formal knowledge of purifying shea butter.  To date, I still have people thinking that shea butter comes in a large shell.  Little has been done to educate that public at large.    It was the first time that anyone had presented value added shea butter for industrial uses.

I could never know how prophetic my presentation would be until I came home after the shea butter convention and received a recall letter in the mail.  The recall letter was from walmart regarding the recall of the Simply Right baby wipes where they found bacteria in the baby wipes.  How in the world did that happen?  The reason why this is so personal for me is that at the convention one of the products  I presented a household use for shea butter.  It was a shea butter disposable wipe.  I had explained the harmful chemicals in baby wipes and other disposable towels.  I exposed that many  antiseptic wipes do not contain enough ingredients to be labeled anti-septic and that the baby wipes  we put on our children do very little to protect and clean their bottoms.  My “invention” or formulation was a heated device that warms disposable shea butter wipes.

As a formulator I always looking at new ways to create or improve existing products.  At the office, I use baby wipes as an easy go to product between clients or patients.  I am glad that my peers and other professionals thought the wipe was a great idea and great contribution to society.  I save the medical cream formula for another post.    As I presented this product and others (can’t disclose due to proprietary information) industrial uses for shea butter was born.  With a little know-how, we can all leave footprints for a better society.  I just happen to think that shea butter is one of resources that is underdeveloped and underutilized.  The possibilities are endless.  If anyone had known how corn could revolutionize an industry, I’m sure that they would have done more to keep it under wraps for themselves.  I’m glad that I am at the forefront of shea butter.  LET THE SCIENCE BEGIN

Organic Sista

Expect the Unexpected

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EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

 

I wonder how often we believe that God will do just what he said.  As a rule, we trust God and we inherently know that he will never lie to us.  After all the Bible, tells us that he is not a man that he should lie.  So, I find myself this day, questioning myself.  Why am I so surprised when God does exactly what he says he is going to do?  I’m putting my faith on display here.  Do I really trust God?  If so, why the look of amazement when that which I have been hoping, praying and believing for has been performed at the hands of God.

I was recently brought to the book of Matthews 25 for an explanation to my questions.  Matthew gives us a recounting of the ten virgins.  Five were wise and five were foolish.  The foolish virgins carried oil to meet the bridegroom, but didn’t carry enough oil.  The five who were wise were wise enough to bring enough oil to meet the bridegroom when he came.  I’ve read this passage several times and it has always been easy enough for me to decode its meaning.  It’s simple, we must be prepared. However, this latest time that I read it.   I have viewed it differently.  I’ve always thought the foolish virgins were just unprepared and not necessarily foolish.  How many of us have not fully counted the cost, or underestimated the amount of something?  I truly felt sorry that these foolish virgins should have been given a little mercy; after all they did come with some oil.  So why penalize them so harshly?

Well the truth of the matter is that they were foolish.  If we examine it more closely let’s look at what we know about this story.  Firstly, they knew that the bridegroom was coming. Secondly, they knew that they needed oil as they awaited his return.  Thirdly, they should have noticed the other 5 women taking more oil with them than they carried. Fourthly, since they did not know the exact timing of the return of the bridegroom they didn’t prepare properly.  Finally, they never considered rather than asking for the other women’s oil to meet the bridegroom that they could have asked one of the ladies can I walk with you on the journey to meet the bridegroom.  Hey, why did they need individual lamps?  Can’t one lamp light the pathway for two?   None of the five ever considered partnering with the otherwise women.  If they had combined the oil of each other’s lamp their supply would have lasted twice as long. By the way, if I saw the bridegroom coming.  I would have found him in the dark.  I’m just saying.  All of this made them foolish.

As Christians we too are foolish.  We are not prepared for the bridegroom.  On one hand we say that we want to be with Christ.  But, if given the opportunity to die, we will choose to live.  No one wants to die, but we all scream we want to be with Jesus.  We will go to drastic measures to remain on planet earth.  To receive Christ’s return we must expect the unexpected.  If we are not properly waiting for his return, how will we ever go back with him?  Will he find us without oil?  Or, will we have our lamps trimmed and eagerly anticipating his return.

As a little girl, I dreamed of the most perfect fantasy wedding.   I believe every woman has dreamed of that magical day.  As I grow deeper in Christ, I have shifted the fantasy to a spiritual dream wedding when I prepare myself for my groom.  Jesus has promised to marry me and take me away.  His love for me I still am trying to understand.  Why would someone love me before the foundation of the world?  I’m so amazed at being one of his created being.  It means that all the times that I felt unworthy, un-pretty, unnecessary and “un-normal” that I am the exact opposite of all that.  Of all the things that God did not create I WAS NOT ONE OF THEM!

So my very existence proves his love for me.  Every cell in my body marks the artistry that he used to create me.  My eyes, my nose, my face, my legs and my hands are all created for his glory.  So today, I remind myself can I expect the unexpected.  YES I CAN!  I am collecting my oil.  I’m predestined to be prepared.  My name, yeah, it’s written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  I’m blood bought and my groom awaits me.  Who wouldn’t serve a God like that?

Why You Should Stop Being Nice

I received this in my inbox today from my dear friend Denise Mosely of GirlPower and I thought that rather than post today that I would share this with you.  Reading it definitely gives the reader something to think about.  Thanks for the inspiration Denise via Tammy Straight.
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Why You Should Stop Being “Nice”
Have you ever had someone tell you you’re nice?
I have to be honest that I’ve never really been a fan of that word.
I mean, sometimes we can be nice. I have definitely been nice before.
Like the times when being honest is just too hard. Or when I have a hard time just being quiet. Nice pops out.
Nice is pleasing. It’s appropriate. It makes us feel that we’re doing the socially acceptable thing. The nice thing. Saying hello but not really meaning it, pretending excitement when we’re annoyed up to our eyeballs. That’s so niiiiice.
Blergh.
Kind is totally different.
When I looked up kind, because I’m a word girl and words matter, it said kind is a fundamental nature or quality. Kind isn’t superficial or forced or easily turned on and off.
You can’t fake kind.
You can fake nice. And maybe that’s my aversion to it – I’ve seen a whole lot of nice to the face, mean behind the back and I’m way beyond over it. There is no room for toxic people.
I want to be kind.
I want to say something and mean it. And if I don’t mean it, I won’t say it just to be nice. 
I’ve noticed we’re not all that accustomed to accepting compliments given in true kindness. I’ve noticed people tend to respond, “oh that’s so nice of you to say.” And it twists something in my stomach a little bit so I tell them, No. I mean it. I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true. 
And I wouldn’t.
I’m not very nice.
I won’t lie to your face to get through a moment. I won’t.
But I will be kind because I mean it.-Tammy Strait

What Label Is On The Bag You’re Carrying?

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Have you ever had one of those days where you feel the weight of the world is upon your shoulders?  You have way too much to carry this day and someone walks in and says, can I share this with you.  You know from the last syllable that came out of their mouth, the answer should be no.  However, you say politely yes, because anything else would make you Un-Christian or not Nice.  You have been taught that good girls are nice and nice girls are good.  I often see women carry the workload, burdens and cares of so many others and yet they are surprised why they cannot manage the problems of their own.  The management systems that they have set up for others never includes them.  The protocols to love yourself, be kind to yourself and receive to yourself was never written in.

I was one of those women (still in recovery).  If you tell me your problems, your dreams or your impossibilities I am able to see past all the obstacles and teach you how to maneuver past them.  I am good at visioneering other people’s life.  After all I’m analytic and an astute researcher.  My entire adult life has been assessing one situation from the next and finding out the missing parts.  It is what makes me good at work and ineffective at allowing things to progress through the natural course.  I’m good at figuring things out. There have been times that I’ve been so preoccupied with the events of someone else’s life that I didn’t nurture the events of my own life.  So when I tell that I love carrying the bags of others it is not to be a servant/leader, it is to ignore my life.  Life for me is a spectator sport.  I love to sit and observe the lives of others.  For many it’s being nosey, but not so for me, I am truly an observer and a fixer.  Olivia Pope doesn’t have anything on me.  My career has taught me much about problem solving and I am the go to person for  my family and friends.  They often tell me that I always seem to have the answer.  Now, I am inclined to agree with many that I am just that good.  But, the truth of the matter is that if I can find the missing parts in your life and help you connect your dots, then somewhere I matter.

All of us on planet earth seek validation in some area.  I just choose to carry  the load for others.  What’s shocking about this is that I’m not an easily approachable person.  At least by the looks on my face, I’m told.  But, in me there resides a truth that many people connect to.  I’m very transparent.  I live intentionally and for the most part, I don’t change.   And it’s  not that tell all my business.  In fact, I’m deeply private.  But, there is very little pretense in me.  In my former job, co-workers would always gravitate to my desk to tell me some of the most deepest secrets, escapades and darkest sins. I held them all in.   What had not occurred to me is that for  years I carried their burdens.  I am much to strong of a personality to show it, but I held onto these bags of people as comfort.  I always felt powerless when I couldn’t fix their lives or problems.  The weight of this had  become such a problem for me that in the last few years if someone said can I share something with you, I, added more weight.

I found myself on the corner of despair.  I didn’t know what was wrong with me.  I felt heavy all the time.  Then, the fatigue set in.  I felt guilty that I didn’t have drama in my life so many people shared.  But I felt like I had been through several divorces, family members on drugs, unemployment, sickness and disease and betrayal to name a few.  But, thankfully, none of these were my portion at the time.  It was the burdens of others.  Slowly the walls of my mildly perfect life began to crumble.  I didn’t have the strength to carry my own bags.  I was depleted and bankrupt.  All the deposits I had made in the life of others didn’t grow any interest in the bank account of my life.  In fact, I had overdrawn on life completely that when my world spiraled, I couldn’t cope.

When you board a plane the flight attendant gives you the safety features of the aircraft.  They also tell you in case of an emergency to put on your own oxygen mask before you help others.  That’s it!  I had failed to put on my own oxygen mask.  Like a flood, every negative thing that could happen came fast forward in my life.  Death, sickness, business and personal failure, separation, and an attack on my son was my new normal.  Each day started out with what dragon I was going to slay. The attack was so heavy.   I prayed for strength and it seemed as if my prayers went on deaf ears.  I knew God was listening, but I didn’t know if he was speaking to me.  It was the darkest hour in my life and I wanted death to relieve it.  I never contemplated suicide, but I know what wanting to die feels like.  I thought no one has ever experienced this level of pain.  Sadly to0 many others do and much worse than that of what I experienced.  When I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did.  I dared not question God, why, but I wanted to.  I just needed to know how long the pain would last. My suffering finally came to halt when one night I found myself in the middle of my living room floor screaming at the top of my lungs, “I CANT TAKE IT ANYMORE!”  It was the most horrific cry that I have ever cried.    My emotional pain had become physical pain.  I needed it to end and I needed to end right now.  I asked God to not allow anything more on me than I could bear.  I WAS DONE!   It was at my lowest, that I realized that I had surrendered.

It never occurred that during my 2 years of process that I was still holding bags.  I was still carrying bags of  pain in my stomach, grief on my back, disappointment in my eyes, hurt in my heart, fear in my walk,  unworthiness on my head and guilt in my two hands and unforgiveness in my veins.  Only God could free my life of torture.  My restoration didn’t take place overnight.  Healing is not an event, it is a process.  My journey is taking me the scenic route.  It is putting me at the foot of the cross.  I find that it is the only place where I can lay down my ego and begin to trust him.  I’m learning the hardest lesson and that is to trust him more and more each day.  I would love to tell you that I have made it the finish line.  But, the strong willed, don’t-need-nobody person still lives in me and has yet to be crucified.  My submission to God hasn’t created full crucifixion yet, so I remain in process. I remain hopeful.  He is faithful to perform all the necessary training that I need day by day and experience by experience.  The good news is he will do it for you.  On the cross he whispered my name.  Who wouldn’t serve a God like this?

Organic Sista