Tuesday, December 23, 2014

by Loureva Slade

Those who really know me, know that I am very silly.  I love to laugh and have a good time.  (Even when I’m at home by myself, my silly thoughts keep me quite entertained.)

Anyway, the other day, I got an idea.  I put on my partial wig (that I bought for $20) and an outfit that I have never worn outside of my home and I had my daughter take some pictures of me.

I felt like a superstar.  A diva.  A vixen.  A No Limit Soldier “Hot Gurl.”

I was “on one.” 

“Take 20 more pictures, Amari,” I ordered, “And get a few close-ups.”  I put on sunglasses and took them off.  I threw on my favorite hat and took it off.  Outside it was raining, but inside my hallway it was a hot summer day.

I’m sure my daughter was shaking her head (on the inside), but she snapped away.

My husband, who’s used to my shenanigans, looked at my photographer and me and shook his head. 

When my “shoot” was over, my thoughts turned serious.

It is fun to dress up.  It is fun to throw on a wig or sew in a weave and get your nails and makeup done.  It is fun to glue on some lashes or put in some contacts and bat your eyes like it’s nobody’s business.  It’s fun to put on some cute shoes and a “hot” outfit and walk out the house feeling fabulous.  But my hope for myself is that I never become so addicted to additions that when I take those things off I don’t recognize or like the me that remains.

I’ve seen it happen to so many women.  They take out the weave that gave them confidence and don’t recognize themselves.  The compliments and attention stop and their self-esteem takes a major hit.

I’ve seen young ladies refuse to leave their homes without makeup because they don’t feel pretty unless they have it on.

I, myself, have been the girl who thought name brand clothes made me look better.  I didn’t broadcast it, but back in the day I spent way more money than I should have because there was something about knowing how much an outfit cost that made me feel fly.

Oh, and I can’t forget the add-a-size bras.  I never left home without one on because I was embarrassed of my size A’s.

And that is a shame.

Our confidence should never be wrapped up in what we have on, or how we wear our hair, or whether we have on makeup.  You have to know and believe that you are a “Designer’s Original” because the almighty God created you in His image.  You are stunningly gorgeous regardless of what you wear.  You are absolutely beautiful regardless of the length or texture of your hair.  You are hot stuff with or without makeup or a push up bra.  You are truly a work of art—a masterpiece.

I hope you are able to see the heart of what I’m saying.  Enjoy yourself.  Switch things up.  Dress up.  Have fun.  Smile like you love life.  Live it up!  But please make sure you recognize and love the woman underneath it all.  She is beautiful…She is YOU.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Created to Glorify God

 The other day a young lady told me that she didn’t feel pretty.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  When I say this young lady is gorgeous, I mean she is absolutely stunningly beautiful with a personality to match.  I asked her what she perceived to be wrong with her looks and she told me that she didn’t like her lips, her teeth, or the scar on her face.  I spent a few minutes telling her that there is nothing wrong with her.  The things she perceives as flaws are not flaws at all.  She is beautiful just the way she is.  But then I decided to get a little deeper and explain the danger of focusing so much on ourselves that we lose sight of our true purpose.

The truth is that the enemy of our soul, Satan, hates us.  We remind him a great deal of our Creator and his goal is to kill, steal, and destroy us.  He knows how much it hurts God to see us hurting.  Satan uses the media and whatever else he can to feed us the idea that we’re not good enough because we don’t look like this person or because we don’t have as much as that person.  We forget that our Creator made us just the way we are and He doesn’t make any mistakes.  When we buy into Satan’s lies, our attention shifts away from God, where it should be, onto ourselves, where it should not be.  This is dangerous because we aren’t able to fully walk in our purpose when God is not the center of our attention.

It is so important for you to understand that your purpose is so much bigger than just you.  Romans 11:36 (LB) says, “For everything comes from God alone.  Everything lives by His power, and everything is for His glory.”  What is our purpose?  It is to glorify God.  We were created to worship Him.  We were born to serve others.  Instead of spending time beating ourselves up for not looking exactly like someone else, we should thank God for creating us and then use our time to tell others about and draw attention to Him—for He is good.  He is all we need to live a joyful life.

It sounds like it’s easier said than done, but I encourage you to give it a try.  Instead of thinking about things you dislike about yourself all day long, think about ways you can be a blessing to others and then do those things.  Instead of sulking because you don’t like the way your hair looks today, choose to worship God and thank Him for all His many blessings.  Instead of talking negatively about yourself, take time to share Jesus with someone who may not know Him.  I guarantee you will feel so much better when you do.  You will be walking and living in your purpose.  You will be doing what you were born to do.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Unspeakable Joy in the Midst of Difficulties

I lost my parents in 2012.  My father died a few days before the 4th of July; and my mother, the day before Thanksgiving.  I’d be lying if I said that dealing with the loss of two people I had known and loved longer than anyone else on this earth was easy for me.  I’d be lying if I said that as these two holidays approach there isn't a part of me that gets emotional.  I’d be lying if I said I don’t still have days when I cry because I miss them so much.  But I am so thankful that I have been able to lean and depend on Jesus through it all. 

I remember when I found out that my parents had terminal cancer.  I was so afraid.  I was angry.  I felt overwhelmed and frustrated because I was aware of my powerlessness.  I talked with God all day every day because I knew that He was the only One who would fully understand how I felt.  He was the only One who could calm my fears.  He was the only One who thoroughly knew and understood my heart and I trusted Him to help me through.  I’m sure people who knew how much I loved my parents thought I would have an emotional breakdown.  But in my weakness, God was strong.  Because of Him I made it through that difficult period with an increased measure of faith and trust in Him.

I’m currently in the process of clearing my things out of their home, which I must say is also very difficult for me.  Looking through my old papers the other day took me on a trip down memory lane.  I realized that although the sickness and death of my parents was hands down the most difficult time of my life, there have been some other emotionally difficult times in my life as well—multiple heartbreaks, betrayal by friends, being the subject of slander, sometimes falling short of my expectations academically or creatively, etc.  In journal after journal I see that no matter what was happening in my life, I always poured out my heart to God.  I always told Him exactly how I felt and looked to Him for direction, comfort, understanding, joy, and peace.  He is the One who sustained me.

Many people make the mistake of retreating within themselves when they go through difficulties.  Sometimes they stop going to church.  Sometimes they stop reading the bible.  Sometimes they are so upset or disappointed with God that they refuse to talk with Him at all.  That only prolongs truly making it through the situation because He is the only One who can heal our broken hearts and make us whole. I encourage you to resist the urge to retreat and pour out your heart to Him.

Seeing my old journals and letters to God reminded me that being a Christian doesn’t promise that things will be easy in this life.  On the contrary, they will be difficult.  At times they will be really difficult.  But Jesus promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  Because He actually walked the earth, He has experienced every emotion we will ever feel.  It follows that when we are having difficult times emotionally, Jesus knows exactly how we feel and He is right there with us in the midst of our struggles.  He will comfort us and see us through every single one of them, if we just look to Him.  I am a witness to that.

Romans 8:28 is my favorite scripture.  I am thankful that my difficulties will always turn out for good.  I trust God and know that He knows what He is doing.  I smile from within because I am a witness of God’s goodness.  I truly have unspeakable joy on the inside—joy that transcends what happens to me.  I thank Him because He has always been there for me no matter what.  I thank Him because I am able to understand, empathize with, and help others who have emotional struggles.  I’m thankful because although I have had difficulties, I have never stayed in them.  I have only grown through them.  I have looked to Him for strength and direction and He has, without fail, seen me through each and every one of them. 
Psalm 34:19 says: Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.  I thoroughly believe that.  And I am confident that when new difficulties arise He will be faithful to help me through those as well. 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to you own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths” Proverbs 3:5-6

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken.” Psalm 37:25


Monday, September 29, 2014

The Un-Jilting of Rachel (A Short Story by Loureva Slade)

I have a short story that I want to share with you...It is a subject that is so very near and dear to my heart.  Please click on the link and help me share it with others as well.

And please comment...I want to know your thoughts.


God bless.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Who Does God Say that I Am?

A few weeks ago, I woke up with this scripture on my heart:

Matthew  16:13-17 NIV says:

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is? They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.

It reminded me that if people misunderstood who Jesus was, I shouldn’t allow myself to be hurt when people misunderstand or mislabel me.  If we’re honest, the 12 disciples who walked with Jesus didn’t FULLY understand who He was while they walked with Him.  Even when Peter answered correctly, His actions later in Jesus’ earthly life (denying his acquaintance with Him on multiple occasions) showed His uncertainty about who Christ was.  When things hit the fan, those who were closest to Him weren’t 100 percent sure of who He was while He lived.  It wasn’t until after His death and resurrection that His true identity was fully accepted by them.

With that said, I can honestly say that I’ve been given titles that don’t always describe the heart of who I am.  I’ve asked, “But who do YOU say that I am?  You’ve walked with me.  You know me.  What do you think about me?”  There have been times when I have been dissatisfied with the answers given.  And that is ok.  My new question has become “Who does God say that I am?  And is He pleased with me?”  In my spirit, I know that the answer is yes.  I know that He sees me through the blood of Jesus and He is daily making me more in the image of Christ.   I have growing and maturing to do, but during the maturation process I am confident that God looks at me and smiles—regardless of what anyone else thinks.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

God's Word

I want to be more like my Father.  So each day I make it a point to spend time with Him.  No longer do I just speak to Him, but I open my heart to hear what He says back to me.  And one of the ways He speaks to me is through His Word.  His Holy Word is my roadmap for life.  It truly is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.  I have made it a point to study His word on a daily basis, and I understand my Creator so much better as a result.  I am more aware of His love for me and His desires of me because I am constantly thinking about Him and meditating on scripture.  His Spirit makes His Word alive and relevant to me—and I am so thankful for the many transformations I see in my life as I draw closer to the Master.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Helping Those in Need

I know that my heart condition is extremely important if I want to live a full life in Christ—one that is meaningful and impactful.  And as He continues to perfect me and make me into His image, He brings things to my attention that need addressing in order for me to be more like Him.  He most recently brought my attitudes about giving under the microscope.

I’ve heard and read passages from Proverbs many times throughout my life, but recently while listening to Proverbs on CD, something spoke directly to me and I immediately felt convicted.  I realized that I had yet another issue of the heart, and I repented and immediately started to behave differently.  First let me give you a little backstory.

I’m not a “baller” yet, but I love to give.  I think it’s because my dad was a giver, and I admired him more than anyone else in this world, aside from Jesus.  I wanted to be just like my dad and I constantly saw him give to those in need.  So I gave too.  One of my fondest memories from childhood was riding around with my dad during the holidays and giving out cards and money to those in need.  I loved the way it felt to make someone smile.  I remember being in high school and begging my mom to donate to an organization on my behalf because I felt so passionately about the cause, but didn’t have anything to give.  I regularly give clothes to organizations that help the homeless and I give to all types of organizations that do positive work in the community.  I’m always asking the Lord to bless me indeed like He did Jabez, because my heart desires to have more than enough so that I can give, give, give.  I love it. 

What I say next may seem to contradict my love of giving.  In college, my attitudes about giving shifted.  I became more picky about who I gave to.  I gave a lot to organizations or people I knew who were in need, but I rarely gave to random people I saw on the street asking for money.  I lacked compassion for them.  I felt harassed by them.  I was convinced that if I gave, they wouldn’t use the money wisely.  Once, a guy asked if I had any change to spare and I was literally offended that a grown man would ask me for anything.  I told him that I was a struggling college student and asked him if he had any change he could spare me.  I started to think the way so many others do.  The poor were poor by choice.  They needed to get jobs.  I avoided eye contact because I didn’t want to be asked for help that I was unwilling to give.  At freeway exits, I made sure I looked busy whenever I was stopped next to someone holding a sign and asking for help.  I stopped carrying cash around for the sole purpose of being able to tell those who asked if I had any change that I honestly didn’t.  Every now and then my heart strings would be pulled and I may have given someone $10 and a CALI Newsletter…or I might have bought someone a meal in lieu of giving cash, but for the most part I behaved like Scrooge before his transformation.  I didn’t see anything wrong with my actions because although I rarely gave to panhandlers, I still gave, gave, gave.

But as I listened to Proverbs a few weeks ago, I realized the error of my ways.  A few scriptures caught my attention:

“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” (Proverbs 19:17)

“Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.” (Proverbs 21:13 NIV)

“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” (Proverbs 22:9 NIV)

“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.” (Proverbs 28:27)

There are many other scriptures in the bible regarding how we should treat those in need—including a powerful passage in Matthew 25:35-40, which talks about how we honor God when we help those in need.

To stop carrying cash so that I didn’t have to help someone in need was wrong.  To pretend that I am struggling so much myself that I am unable to give to someone who obviously has a greater need than I do is just wrong.  To deny someone in need because I’m worried about how they will spend the dollar I give them is wrong.  What they do with the money is between them and God.  I should offer help when I can.  To avoid eye contact with a person and pretend like I don’t see their need is absolutely wrong.  These behaviors go against all that the bible teaches.

I thank God for His Holy Word and for His Spirit revealing truth to me.  I feel so much joy in my heart now that my giving is in line with His Word.  It feels so wonderful. 

I desperately want my life to be pleasing to my Father.  I want Him to call me a woman after His own heart.  I want others to see Him when they look at me.  I am called to do many things…and one of them is to help those who are in need—from a place of love.  When I consider all that God does to bless me each and every day, extending that same love to others is the least I can do to say thank You. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Operating in Love

I do periodic self-evaluations of my attitude.  I go through my mental rolodex of things that once triggered negative emotions to see whether they still do.  By the middle of last year I was patting myself on the back because I had definitely grown into a better person than I was the previous year.  I was no longer holding on to anger and resentment from 20 years ago, I had made conscious decisions to forgive, I hadn’t had any outbursts of anger in a while, and I had let go of most of my past grudges.  I still had some work to do, but I was praying earnestly for healing and believed I was headed in the right direction.

So you can imagine my frustration when the latter part of the year rolled around and I found myself consumed with anger and out of control because my husband made a couple decisions I disagreed with.  I felt like he had completely disregarded my feelings and put me in an uncomfortable situation and that really set me off.  My years of working on my issue with anger seemed to fly out the window and I was so mad that I said some very hurtful things to and about him and others.  I felt like I was going to have an emotional breakdown—literally.  I had to pray like never before to get it together. 

Guilt set in shortly after my blood stopped boiling.  My children had watched and heard me spew venomous words.  I’m a CALI Girl and if there was a Christian TMZ, my picture would have been all over it along with an unflattering write-up.  I knew God wasn’t pleased with my behavior either.  Although I had been talking with Him about how I was feeling all along, I disregarded what He said back to me and allowed my flesh to take over.  I acted so ugly.  At the time I chose to blame it on the age-old notion that “I was just upset.” 

I later realized that my anger wasn’t what made me say the things I had said.  Proverbs 4:23 instructs “Guard your heart above all else, for from it flow the issues of life.”  It is true that I was upset when I had my outburst, but the root cause of the outburst wasn’t the anger, but a heart that was unclean.  The bible says that “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  So the unkind words I spoke, the language I used, and the wrath with which I spoke were only evidence of what I had going on inside me.  What a horrible realization.  I thought I was doing so well, but having a heart issue like the one I had required immediate attention and I knew I wouldn’t be able to correct it on my own.

I went straight to the Lord for help and together we began work on my “heart issues.”  I sought forgiveness from my husband and the others I had hurt.  I explained to my children how I had behaved inappropriately and reminded them that there was no acceptable excuse for my actions. 

Then I immersed myself in scriptures about love.  I decided that I want to exemplify the love of God at all times because that’s what He has called me to do.  Matthew 22:37-39 says “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  Love is powerful.  God is love.  And without Love I am nothing.  When I see people through the eyes of Love and when Love rules my heart, I will respond differently when people say or do things that I disagree with.  Anger won’t fuel me.  Love will.  I continue to pray that Love dwells in my heart because I understand that the words I speak are a direct reflection of it.  I want my words to be rooted in love at all times.  I want my words to build others up—not tear them down.  I want the words I speak to be a great representation of the God I serve and the Love that He is.

The final decision I made was to pay closer attention to my thoughts.  I can’t control my initial thoughts, per se, but I do choose whether I will give attention to the thoughts that pop in my head.  In 2 Corinthians 10:5b the bible saystake captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”   I am paying attention to every thought that enters my mind and throwing out those that go against the word of God.  (Read Philippians 4:8 when you have a moment.  It tells us the exact things we should think about.)  If I allow myself to meditate on things that go against God’s word, I risk having an unclean heart.  I risk saying and doing things that I will later regret.  I don’t want to take any chances. Psalms 51:10 says “Create in me a clean heart, Oh God.  And renew a right spirit within me.”  That is my prayer.  I pray that God remove anything from my heart and from my life that is not of Him.  I truly want to be right.  I want to draw others to Him and I realize that I am a more effective witness when I’m operating in love.

Family Prayer Time

One of my fondest memories from childhood was spending the night at CALI Girl Eboni’s house and being a part of her family’s prayer circle.  Eb and I spent the day chatting, watching television, playing dress up, and all the other stuff girls do, but before we went to sleep at night her mother and father would call everyone together so we could pray.  It was obvious they did this regularly and they were unashamed, even though they had a guest.  At the time, I had never participated in a family prayer circle, so the concept of holding hands with my parents and siblings and praying at home was foreign to me.  I couldn’t help but glance around the circle and see that everyone was so comfortable in the presence of our Heavenly Father.  I closed my eyes, bowed my head, and prayed as well.

That moment impressed me so much that now that I am married with children, I make it a point to pray with my family almost every night.  During our prayer time we acknowledge and thank God for who He is and all that He has done for us.  We ask Him to continue to bless us.  We pray for our family and friends.  We pray for those who don’t know Him.  We pray for their teachers, classes and anything else that is on our hearts.  As God answers various prayers, I make a huge fuss over it.  “See…God answers prayers!”  It’s so awesome.  Whenever we have visitors, we welcome them to pray with us as well. 

As we start off the new year, I encourage you to pray with your family.  If you aren’t already doing it, you can initiate it by asking your family to pray with you at least one night a week.  I promise you it is a powerful experience.  And you will be amazed as you see God move in your lives.