Virgin Hair! A Natural Mess But I Love It 

I walked into the office on a day when I simply did not have time to wash, condition, blow dry, oil my scalp, then finally straighten my hair with a flat iron that gets hot enough to fry a 30 pound turkey. Stop and stare, and then that daring question commences, “Can I feel it?” This is most common reaction that naturals receive from the wash-n-go look. I’ve been natural for almost 9 years and still experience this reaction from people who already know me and have seen my hair curly on numerous occasions.

So when I actually find the time to execute the recipe list of steps and stretch my curls by flat ironing my hair…oh yes!!! The strands are bone straight, moistened, bouncy and absolutely lustrous! The reaction I received now is OMG your hair is sooooo beautiful! As I smile it brings this overwhelming sense of confidence and I instantaneously feel the urge to whip my hair like a Victoria’s Secret model. During  mid sentence I’m embracing every opportunity to nodd my head hard enough to see the fluidity of my fine locs shift across my face. 

I’ve been very experimental with my hair with different lengths, colors and textures. You name it, I’ve done it all! In retrospect, I believe my mother is to blame for my hair adventures because she had my sister and I helping in her salon as young kids. We probably learned how to dye our hair and apply acrylic nails before the age of 10. However you choose to wear your hair, where it with confidence. Hone it! And for my natural sistas who just can’t seem to manage their hair see my helpful tips below. 

For Natural Look:

Find the products that work for you and use them consistently. If all else fails, go back to the basics. I use organic coconut oils immediately after I wash the conditioner out of my hair. I’ve found that it helps moistened the proteins in the hair but doesn’t leave it feeling gritty or greasy. Apply your leave in conditioner and/or your curl activating serum and go. If your curly fro is doesn’t look even you can wear a head band or retractable bra strap to pull the hair together. In order to train those curls you have to apply moisture, daily in between washes. I mix leave in conditioner and water in a spray bottle and apply it every day. 

For the Straight Look: 
When wearing my hair straight I always deep condition before I apply the heat. Lather 3 times and apply conditioner. Leave the conditioner in for at least 30 minutes and wear a plastic cap to allow the natural heat from your body to permeate through the hair strands. Wash the conditioner out and apply the coconut oil throughout especially directly on your scalp. Divide your hair in to 2-4 sections to blow dry each one at a time. This ensures that the heat is applied evenly. You’ll find that it’s also easier to comb through when your hair is in sections. Then use an oil sheen spray on the hair just before you flat iron it. At the end of the day, wrap your hair and use a silk scarf to help retain the moisture. You might need to apply a small amount of oil, daily, to maintain moisture and shine. 

Products I use:

  • Kera Care Detangling shampoo and conditioner 
  • Mixed Chics Leave in conditioner 
  • Organic Coconut oil
  • Blue Magic Hair and Scalp Conditioner AKA ‘GREASE’ (Especially for the scalp applied at night)
  •  Pink Hair Glosser (Used when straightening)

3 Reasons Why Marriage is Still “A Thing” For Us

We were in our early 20s when we decided to tie the knot 9 years ago. We had tons of people giving us the inevitable unsolicited advice. “Keep God in the center of your marriage” , “Keep a great love life” and “Communication is the key to a successful marriage” are just a few statements that I can remember. Fast forward, nine years later, I will acknowledge that these statements were very relevant words of advice but no one, at that time, explained to us the “How”. How do we keep God in the center of our marriage? How do we communicate when I really just want to prove my point and win the argument? What love life??? With children, jobs and ministry work, how do we even find the time or energy for intimacy!?!? Anyway, from these thoughts derived three reasons why I believe my husband and I are still married in addition to God’s amazing grace and daily renewed mercies. 

1. My husband knows that I respect him and I know he loves me.

We’ve argued plenty of times and hitting my dear hubby upside the head then carrying on with my life was enticing. We’ve had moments in our marriage when I would think “This joker can’t be serious???” and worse words would end up coming out of my mouth if I didn’t check my heart. Then one day during a disagreement, my husband said to me, “I know you don’t talk to your boss like this…” Now that right there was something to think about. If I can respect my boss, surely I can respect my own husband. I’m not capable of altering the way he thinks or acts (that’s a job for God) , however, I can change my attitude and how I respond to him.

The bible tells husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husband (Eph. 5:33). So after heated arguments, when all I want to do was give him a piece of my mind and enter the deadly silent treatment phase, I have to humble myself and apologize. A minister once said, “Never look to win in an argument because either you’ll be a loser or married to one”. We’re not enemies and if I’m upset with him I still have to respect him simply for who he is.  He is my husband, the head of the household, the sole provider, and leader of our family. Reading the bible and obeying it is how you “Keep God in the center of your marriage”.

2. We never stop striving to communicate effectively.

When you’ve been with someone for so long, you go through a plethora of changes; appearance, preferences, and interests. What you liked yesterday might not be what you like tomorrow. How you feel about something today may not be how you feel about it next year. We have to talk to each other sometimes like it’s our first date. We ask each other about goals and where we see ourselves in the next 5 years. We intentionally engage each other even if we’re up until one in the morning. We are quick to apologize but still have those hard conversations to resolve the issue instead of ignoring it. This all goes with the “communication is the key “ advice. That’s pretty simple right???

3. We make finding ways to be intimate with each other a HIGH priority.

Unfortunately, being intimate with each other is already a hard task when you’re always tired, you work a lot, and you have multiple children in the home. We getaway about once a year to a Family Life marriage conference for private intimate time and to also receive spiritual impartation from some of the best Christian marriage counselors around. So what else do we do for the other 363 days of the year???? We get creative and intentional. We plan our private time and until then a loving touch, hug, and kiss here and there when the kids aren’t looking, goes a long way! Women, it could be even better if you initiate the love taps. Initiation reminds your husband that intimacy is a high priority for you, too. 

I’m sure we all can agree that it takes time, sacrifice and an honest effort from both husband and wife to have a strong marriage. And I’m here to tell you, if we can press on through the good and bad, so can you! Join us in striving to beat the odds and make your marriage last forever. 

Time or Money: Do We Really Have to Choose What’s More Important?????

“What’s more important time or money?” was an interesting question posted in a Facebook status. The person who wrote the post was specifically referring to sacrificing time with his family and friends in order to work more hours. Well, from reading responses to that question I learned that it’s all about perspective. A rich person dying of cancer would likely say that time is more important, however, a person who has lived in poverty most of their life would probably say that money is more important. If you had only one year to live (and considering the world we live in today this is very likely) would you accept a job aiming to receive more income even if the job required more of your precious and diminishing time?? In my opinion, time with loved ones is much more important than money. I also believe that if we learn to use our time and money wisely, we wouldn’t have to struggle as much as we do, to be successful in our careers and family life.

Unfortunately, it took a series of tragedies to transpire to help me put life into perspective and prioritize my goals according to the purpose God has for my life. One of those tragedies was losing my 16 year old brother. Even after his death I still made getting money my highest priority. My goal was to make tons of money to live the lavish lifestyle of owning the finer things in life and someday have a family of my own to share it with. In my vigorous attempt to attain that goal I simultaneously worked 2-3 jobs while in college full time. I wanted to receive a bachelor’s degree and later pursue a law degree to make even more money. No matter how much time this endeavor took from adequate hours of sleep, spending time with my family or volunteering at church, I was determined to get my money or die trying. That was a dangerous quote from one of the popular rappers at the time that I had chosen to live by. Then in the moment of me actually coming close to death, I thought, this money is not more important than the time I could be spending with my family and doing something for the greater good. At that point, my foolish desire to get rich by any means necessary started to dwindle.

After the unexpected death of my brother and my own near death experiences, my ultimate goal was to have an intimate relationship with the Lord. I decided to make a very intentional effort to CHASE THE LORD instead of money. To chase the Lord is to simply strive to be like Jesus. There were many times when I got off track but God always found a way to bring me back. Regarding my desire earn a good living, I learned that what’s most important than sacrificing time to make more money is learning how to properly manage the money you already make. I began to look at how much time I spent working to make the money, how quickly I spent it and what I spent it on. I also thought about new job opportunities and what worked best for my family situation and my desire to serve the Lord. This is how I established the correct order of my goals and discovered the true value of time and money.

The bible tells us to honor the Lord with our wealth (Proverbs 3:9). Most people these days choose not attend church let alone relinquish the tithe and offering. Giving our money to the church is the last thing on our minds but we consistently pray and ask God for increase. I learned that if I wanted to ‘chase the Lord’ I needed to also be obedient with giving a portion of my income to further His kingdom. Would it make sense for God to bless us with more money if we are being disobedient by withholding the tithe and spending it all on temporal things? Are we wasting our time doing foolish things when we could be working or learning to invest our money. Perhaps if we had a grateful attitude about our families, jobs, homes, and belongings the Lord will then bless us with even more income. Maybe if we honor the Lord with our income and properly manage our time and money, we will then have the amount we allegedly need.

I’m saying all this to encourage people to strive to live a righteous lifestyle, seeking Godly wisdom/counsel and being obedient to God’s Word then we will won’t have to compare and contrast what’s more important, our time or our money. Godly wisdom and counsel will help you become a better person, employee, family member, friend, and steward with your money. It will also teach you the disciplines you need in order to succeed in life. Also educate yourself by reading Godly resources and attending seminars regarding finances.  I personally believe that If you sacrifice all of your time chasing money, you will be running after it your entire life never having enough to satisfy yourself. And in that inevitable moment when you’re about to bite the dust, most of you will desire more time with loved ones instead of the material things your money got you .

I can’t speak on what others do to achieve success but living a righteous and modest life what I strive to do. It’s still not easy for me and I’m continuously learning and seeking wisdom/advice to stay on track. With this approach I’ve witnessed the favor of God on my life and family’s life as it relates to health, safety, job opportunities, financial responsibilities, investments and even vacation experiences. I truly believe that if we all strive to receive wisdom from the Word of God concerning our time and money, we will lessen the experiences of hard life lessons due to ignorance.  We actually need to seek the Lord for advice concerning everything!Anyone can preach this word all day long, but honestly, I believe it’s time for us all to make a better effort at practicing what we preach if we really want to help ourselves and others. Value your time and your money using Godly wisdom, it will reap success.

Avoid getting so busy making a living that you forget to live. Don’t take life for granted. Find your balance. What lifestyle changes do you need to make in order to balance your time and money effectively? Both are important but maybe you don’t have to choose.

Facade: She successfully killed what needed to die…

via Daily Prompt: Facade

As an adult she heard a preacher say, “When you feel like you want to kill yourself, something needs to die, but it’s not you”. She only wishes she had heard these words in her difficult teenage years because at the tender age of 17 she tried to commit suicide.

Excessive bullying, an emotionally abusive relationship (that ultimately led to a harsh breakup), an injury that ended her high school athletic career and alcohol addiction that ultimately led to chronic depression is what she endured at the age of 17. One may ask, how on earth does this happen to a 17 year old girl??? This is how.

She was a junior going into her senior year of high school with a high likelihood of receiving a full athletic scholarship for basketball. At the beginning of the year, she had received an abundance of letters of interest from some of the most competitive Universities in the US and a few international programs. The dream became less promising when she tragically tore her ACL and meniscus during a High school basketball game. From that day forward, her life instantly came crashing down as she began to put on a facade to hide her identity issues and signs of chronic depression. Everyone, including herself, wanted to believe that she was only the girl who loved Jesus (because she was in church like 3-4 days out of the week), performed great academically, and didn’t give her parents much trouble at home. They couldn’t know that she was hanging with who she and her peers thought were the ‘cool kids’, their friends. These ‘friends’ were fake thugs, excessive weed smokers and drinkers who liked to party and make anyone the object of ridicule until they broke down in tears. Mere heartless bullies…The thought of revealing the insecure, self-condemning, depressed, confused, and not so smart girl that she was, became unbearable.

A few days, post full reconstructive knee surgery, she was alone in her bedroom thinking she just needs to be put out of her misery. The life she is supposed to live after this just isn’t worth living. So she grabbed her bottle of Vicodin and stared at it for about 30 seconds thinking, “I wonder if this is enough to do the job”. She slowly opened the cap, turned the bottle up and dry swallowed half of contents. She was seconds from finishing the bottle when suddenly, her bedroom door was opened. Her parents showed up with her favorite fast food. She began to weep. That small thoughtful gesture of her parents essentially stopped her from committing suicide. The poor girl was high as a kite for a while, then sick a dog for a longer while, but she was indeed ALIVE. God’s amazing grace had saved her and she was reminded by the Holy Spirit that she was a child of God. He knew her heart and He loved her for who she was.

It still took a few years for her to accept who she was in Christ but she continued to persevere. Even through her trials and tribulations, she loved Jesus, strived to obey God’s word, and find her identity in Him. She successfully killed what needed to die, the facade. 

Our Twins’ First Basketball Game: My dream that turned into a perfect nightmare…

It was a busy Saturday morning and my 5 year old twins had their first basketball game at 9:15AM. Boy was I excited as I had dreamt of this moment since the day they were born.  I zealously went to wake them up and unfortunately, they were the crabbiest little kids ever!!! In their defense, they’re just not morning people (never have been) and usually don’t get out of the bed until 10AM or later.  Their challenging mood really wasn’t what I had preferred to deal with that day. We had a wedding to attend immediately following their game and a long day ahead of us.  I knew the only way I could accomplish this task was by sending my other two littles with dad (who conveniently had a charity event at work), getting myself dressed for the wedding and packing the twins’ clothes to get them dressed after their game.

We miraculously made it to the gym on time only to find out that the coaches for their team didn’t show up. I saw the need, so I immediately offered to help. They recruited my husband to help the week prior and I’m a formal basketball player and coach, so why not??? To my surprise, the program coordinator gave me ‘The look’, up AND down!  She responded, “We did let Byron help us out but ummm… we should be okay. We’ll find someone else.” What she was really thinking was, “No this chick doesn’t think she can coach in my program with that Mary Poppins dress on and First Lady Obama pearls in her ear.” In which was totally understandable because hey, my attire didn’t exactly illustrate a ‘Hooper’, let alone an experienced basketball coach. She simply did not know me. No one in that gym did as it was in my husband’s hometown, not mine. And to add insult to my already injured ego, another lady asked if we were coming from church!!  At this point, the urge to share my long list of athletic achievements and coaching/playing experience was tantalizing; however, I smiled and patiently waited for the replacement coach to arrive instead of selling myself.

The coach from another team arrived 15 minutes after the game was supposed to start and now they needed someone to run the clock. None of the other parents volunteered, as expected, so of course I eagerly offered to assist in that area. The coordinator hesitantly accepted my offer. Then she asked a young man to show me how to work the elementary clock that I’m pretty sure my 2 year old could operate and had the nerve to tell him to stay with me until I have figured it out. I wanted to say;  Miss, I’ve been playing basketball and operating a clock for over 20 years, but I humbled myself, yet again, and allowed the clock training for dummies session to commence.

The game finally starts and my kids are looking like two deer in headlights with their eyes watering. It was painful to see my poor kiddos so scared and confused like two baby birds pushed out of their nest prematurely.  They just stood in the middle of the court not even remotely trying to touch the basketball. I mean they were downright overwhelmed. So not only does the basketball coordinator think that I’ve got no game, my kids’ clueless reaction to the game was probably how she thought I would be as a coach.  My mother bear instincts instantaneously kicked in as I began to direct my attention to my twins trying to encourage them to get involved. Unfortunately, I ended up getting too distracted and forgot to update the score board a few times. I earned the look of death from every over competitive parent in the crowd who apparently thought their 5, 6, or 7 year old was playing in front of college recruiters.  By the time the 3rd short 6 minute quarter (that felt like 25 to me) had ended, both of my kids had already walked off the court stressing that they were tired and didn’t want to play. Then a volunteer says, “Why did you sign your kids up for basketball and they don’t even want to play”, while another mom rolls her eyes at me because again, I forgot to enter her overgrown son’s points on the scoreboard.  It took all the super natural power of the Holy Spirit within me to not revert back to Keish-Keish AKA Peachez (the unruly pre-Saved, pre-Sanctified, pre-Holy Ghost filled Mrs. Peculiar Mom) and give all of these people a piece of my mind. Boy was my patience and humility being tested!

In the final quarter, BJ was reluctantly taking the ball out of bounds, Naomi was on a prolonged trip to the bathroom (pretty sure it was intentional), and I was sitting at the clock about to cry. Wishing there was a feature to speed up the time. Then finally….saved by the buzzer! The dreadful game is over! I tried to gather my kids to escape from this miserable experience as fast as I could only to be approached by the program coordinator again. This time she tried to encourage me (bless her heart) by saying she thinks they still give out most improved awards and that my daughter could be good because her aunt was good.  I took a deep breath, smiled and said “Remember this moment; my kids have no choice but to be good”! Then I walked out of the gym, probably on my toes, with my flowing red dress, Mary Jane flats, and elegant pearls, saying to myself, “I’ll never wear a dress to the gym again.” I got my twins dressed in the car and we made to the wedding just before it started. This was a happy ending but the moral of this story is, if you’re a woman ‘Hooper’, never wear a dress to the basketball court, not unless you want your level of humility to be tested.