#PhenomenalWomanWednesdays: Giving a Word in Season

  

Hey, beautiful people! 

Have you ever heard of the term “rhema”? Rhema, or ῥῆμα in Greek, basically means “a thing said or an utterance” Often, you’ll hear Christians mention something being a “rhema word”, and that carries with it the heavy implication that it was a word in season, delivered right on time. Rhema words are often startling ( at least to me) because they hit right to the target of what I am dealing with or what was weighing on my heart. Rhema, in my opinion, comes directly from the Holy Spirit. 

  
All good, but what does that have to do with today’s post?” you might be wondering. Well, the person that I asked to guest blog today, is someone that I feel like the Holy Spirit centered right smack into my life right when she needed to be there. Our sisterhood, our friendship is what happens when you hear God speak and you act on it! Around January of last year, God highlighted Derricka and I just heard, felt in my bones that she was someone that I needed to get to know. She was going to be that true covenant friend–chasing God, encouraging me to keep on chasing…y’know, someone that filled many different roles. The only speed bump there was the fact that we never really interacted before.  I’d always seen Derricka around church, and we’d exchanged pleasantries but that was about it. God and I had a real frank conversation, one in which I told Him that I didn’t appreciate the idea of walking up to this woman and looking every bit of a stalker or a fool while saying “God told me we should hang out” (Note to self: Great Christian pick up line. Save for later. Joking. Holiness is still right *in my churchmotha voice*) God, in true Godly fashion, used His James Earl Jones voice (what I imagine God sounds like) and said DOOOOO ITTTTTTT. Not only that, but He kept putting us in situations together, as if to say “I’m giving you every opportunity to do what I told you to do.”

Long story short, I swallowed my fear at the possibility of mortification, and I did it. And because–duh–God won’t call us to do anything that is going to harm us, it has been incredible. Derricka’s entire presence in my life has been a Rhema word. She is timely, and yet she is timeless. She has a knack for calling/texting/emailing right when it’s necessary. She has spoken into my life in SOOO many areas, and God has used us both in crazy awesome ways over the past year and a half. Derricka has ALWAYS had a right on time word, thought and presence, and I have no doubt that what she has to say will bless enormously!
  
1. Jump in, jump out, introduce yourself! What are three things that we don’t know about you?

Oh, hey *insert smise because if you know me, you know I likes to smise*. My name is Derricka and I am a lover of LIFE. *insert finger-wagging theologians who have Matthew 10:39 locked and loaded* Yes, I LOVE life, and all that it entails. Everyday I have a clean slate and get to partner with God to shape it into something beautiful. How awesome is that? Plus, I only get one (on this side of eternity) So I may as well enjoy it, right?

 Can I just say, God is so timely. (If my blog isn’t enough proof for you, make sure to hop back to Joy’s post for the last #PhenomenalWomanWednesdays post. It’s so good!) No detail is too minor or too major for God and that brings me comfort. One of those things being the gift of Steph. I like that, “the gift of Steph”. It has a nice ring to it.

 Steph and I met at DHC about a year ago. I saw her in passing as she visited with Mama Karen (that’s my nickname for her mom. That woman is amazing.) I probably said “hey! Thank you so much for coming!” in passing. But never had a conversation with her. One day, she slid into my DMs and the rest was history! (In all seriousness, God laid it on her heart to reach out to me, and boy am I glad that this woman is obedient.) Steph is the “too good to be true” in my life. I have never met someone so selfless, so genuine, so empathetic to the needs of others. Her strength is quiet but fierce. She’s the friend that reminds me of the vision God had when he handcrafted me, and is ALWAYS there to remind me of such vision when my sight is blurred by the frustrations of life and my own attempts to self destruct.

So, three things people don’t know about me:

1. I cannot watch a situation where people are embarrassed. Whether it be in a t.v. show, a movie, in person. Seriously, my stomach turns in knots and I have to change the channel or walk away. I can’t stand to see people be humiliated. I’ve always been that way and still am to this day.

2. I LOVE assembly lines. Yes, where person A does their part and hands their contribution to person B. Person B does their part and hands it to person C, and so forth. Everyone does their part, every part is important. Everyone gets to operate in their gifts and the task gets done easier with less burn-out. I seriously get goosebumps when I get to work on a project “assembly-line style”. Can’t you just smell the synergy?

3. I have a slight obsession with Cheez-its, gummy bears (not worms, bears), and french fries. It is always a test of the heart when someone asks me for some, of any of these, and I have to make the decision to share and have less of these, or not share and feel like a jerk. These really are serious decisions for me. Like my countenance changes and everything lol. Pray for me, please?

 2. What is your biggest testimony right now?

My biggest testimony right now is that God is so stinkin’ faithful. I hear of God’s goodness all the time. I even see it in the lives of those around me. Sometimes, I start to wonder when God will do “that” thing in my life. But when I take time to connect the dots of my story. The fears He is delivering me from. The generational curses He is ending with me, the undeniable favor that follows me closer than a shadow…I must say, God truly is faithful.

 I always felt that I was set to fail. From a young age, I was constantly reminded of how chubby I was. I had “nicknames” like ‘Fat Legs’ or plain ole ‘Chubby’. Talk about your confidence builder. I was never able to finish anything I started in life, for one reason or another. Ballet, basketball, swimming, cheerleading, band. The only things I started and successfully finished were the things that I felt obligated to. School, and my chores. (I REFUSED to get a whoopin’ for not finishing cleaning the bathroom because ‘Proud Family’ was coming on. Learned my lesson, and it only takes one time.) I was bestfriends with the “popular girl” and wasn’t sought after by guys, asked to hang out, or anything. I was the really smart girl who stayed home on Saturdays to get a head start on next week’s homework, while people were at the movies or the go-go’s. (It’s a DC/MD thing. You wouldn’t understand.) My college career was a story of relocation, nomadism, and idolatry. Senior year, I would have been fine to just CRAWL across the stage. But God…

 He has used my lack of confidence to help me identify with other “pretty girls” who don’t feel so ‘pretty’. I remember those feelings of inadequacy, rejection, dejection, and can easily speak life over those fears. He has used my inability to finish things to give me a sense of accountability, responsibility, discipline, and consistency when it comes to completing projects and fulfilling commitments. Being “popular” was cool at that time, but being the girl who stayed home studying on Saturday nights earned me amazing grades and got me into every college I applied to. Every fear I have had about being like “that” parent, with “those” tendencies, God is showing me that He made me unique and that I DO NOT have to accept everything that is given to me. (Let that sink in). YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ACCEPT EVERYTHING THAT IS GIVEN TO YOU. You do not have to accept criticism grounded in ill-intentions. You do not have to accept bad habits passed down from parents. You do not have to accept the fear of failures that others have. In His own ways, in His own timing, God is undoing every hurt and redeeming these scars. Beauty for ashes.

 3. What is your favorite Bible verse and why?

 I actually have two favorite Bible verses.

 2 Samuel 7:28 (NIV) “Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.”

 This is one of the first verses I found when I began to intentionally look for promises from God. It’s stuck to me ever since. God’s Word is His covenant. This verse literally says that His Word is trustworthy. The second part really gets me “…to your servant.” As a servant of God (what an honor), I am entitled to His promises.

 Numbers 23:19 (NIV) “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”

 I use this verse to back up 2 Samuel 7:28 whenever I am believing Him for something. “God, you promised me that in due season, I would have _________. You are not a human being that you would say something and change your mind or not act on it. You do not promise something and not fulfill that promise. I can rest as I wait on you to move…”

 4. What is life teaching you right now?

Right now, life is teaching me total dependency on God. Remember that idolatry I mentioned? I was in a relationship with a guy that I made my god. I was willing to relocate my life for him at any notice, except that tugging I felt in my heart from God, and knowing I would miss my church family too much. My church has played a MAJOR KEY in my development in all areas of my life.

 After we broke up, God had to undo the ties and remove the longing for him, and replace it with the longing for Him. God was/is teaching me to believe in Him and wait on Him for the things I need and desire. My job, my car, my home, my grad school (surprise! I’m finna be a student again lol) I had to submit these desires to Him. Ensure that it aligned with His will for my life. Ask with crazy faith that He do it. Trust that He would do it. Then wait…Every single thing I prayed for, I got. Was it exactly what I thought it would be? Absolutely not. What is better? Most definitely. For the things I still long for, I am submitting my requests to Him, and following these same steps. The process ensures 100% chance of success. But with that, I am also learning that God’s “good” is ALWAYS better than my “good”, even if I don’t see it or understand it. So if what I asked for doesn’t happen how I wanted, or at all, I STILL win. (insert Young Jeezy adlibs)

 5. What does being a Christian woman mean to you 

To me, being a Christian woman means being a woman who walks closely with Jesus. She understands that sure she could have a ‘good’ life without Him. But choosing a ‘good’ thing over a ‘God thing’ is never wise, or fulfilling. I want to be a Christian woman who takes control of her emotions because without His peace and instruction, my thinking is irrational and act on impulse. I want to be a woman who is a fighter. Praying over EVERY situation. From what to eat for lunch, to how to have a hard talk with a wayward family member. Being a Christian woman is a woman who simply knows that life sucks without Jesus.

Incredible as always, Derricka…she never ceases to amaze me and I’m confident that something that she had to say that was a Rhema word for you as well. 

Be blessed!

StephTheScribe

#PhenomenalWomanWednesdays: The Art of Joy

Hello beautiful people!

I’m back at it again with another edition of Phenomenal Woman Wednesday. Have you ever had that friend where you couldn’t exactly remember the moment that started it all, but you realized that the intertwining of your life’s has changed the fabric of time? That sounds incredibly dramatic, but there are people who are movers and shakers, and there are others that are shifters. Joy SHIFTS. 

  
I met Joy through attending Destiny Harvest, and she quickly became irreplaceable. She has taught me how to love my heritage a bit more, speaks vision into my life, and encourages those giftings that God has placed on my life that were lying dormant beforehand—honestly, there might not be a Paper, Ink and Jesus if not for her. I have been writing since my early teens, and I went through a stage where my writing reflected my mindset. My poetry could be dark, angry, and sarcastic–it dealt with my fractured relationship with my dad, my singleness (and resulting lust), and my interactions with the public in unhealthy ways and became a tool for revenge moreso than an avenue for His peace….once I decided that I didn’t want to live like that anymore, I was at a loss–how was I supposed to use this really dynamic thing in a way to give God the glory? I stopped sharing and creating out of pure fear that my best wouldn’t be good enough. I stopped writing, and Joy was one of those God-sent agents of change that convinced me to start up again. She even took my stage name–Birthwrite–and refashioned it, because He makes all things new. 

  
Aside from that, though, one of the biggest lessons that I have taken from observing and just generally getting to know Joy is the transformative power of a crazy, bold faith. I’m not talking about crossing your fingers and hoping that life pans out in the way you hope for. Au contraire, mon frere. No, when I say big faith, I mean the kind that wills you to take huge steps because you have communed with God and you hear His voice, and though what He is saying doesn’t even fully make sense to you, you know that with His hand on it, the plan is infallible. So you go–and not begrudgingly either. You go expectantly, just waiting on Him to manifest Himself in people, situations, opportunities, God-moments, etc. And that is exactly what Joy has done. I won’t get into the nuts and bolts, because Joy has her own testimony to share. I know personally, I am going through a season where clarity is needed and vision is eagerly anticipated, so if you are at this crossroads of life, I trust that something that Joy has to say will speak to you as well. 

  
1. Jump in, Jump out…introduce yourself! What are three things that we don’t know about you?

Hello beautiful! My name is Joy and I’ve known Steph for three years. Honestly, I don’t remember how we met but life is full of pleasant surprises and Steph is one of my favorites. I do remember where though, church–probably because I needed a ride home. Anyway, it’s one of those “right on time” sisterhoods because God knew that I needed it BADLY. I’m so grateful to have her in my tribe.

As tiny as I am, I love food and I’m a serial snacker. My guilty pleasure is online window shopping and my browser is full of open tabs of clothing that I like but never buy. There’s a special place in my heart for classic (read: old) movies. Casablanca and Gone with the Wind are my favorites. I can watch them over and over again and I have.

2. What would you say is your biggest testimony right now?

Graduating from graduate school! Columbia was the last school that I applied to AND it was after I had received rejection letters from all the other schools that I applied to. Columbia was also far better than the other schools that I applied to so I was prepared for yet another “we appreciate your application” letter. Somehow they said yes and I ended up in NYC. It was and still is a revelation of “seek first the Kingdom and all things will be added” (Matthew 6:33). I’m still learning that God puts me in places that I am undeserving of and dare I say unqualified for simply because I have my eyes fixed on Him. What an incredible privilege that is. What tends to be overlooked is this tricky space between the seeking and addition called waiting. Ah, that’s the rub! 
However, God’s timing is perfection (yes, the noun). Well, duh! It’s takes a lot to say it and then a whole lot more to believe it. Borrowed words of wisdom: “God is not slow to act, He is slow to anger.” I’m more than grateful for the second part because I’m a struggle at times and God has been more than gracious because I can get a bit foolish. But the former refutes our frustration! His timing is perfect. We live life forward but understand in hindsight. On our timeline it looks like He’s slow or even withholding which is so unlike His nature (He’s the giver of all things-Romans 8:28). I consistently have “ohhh” moments when I realize how perfectly God has orchestrated the events in my life and those around me (Jeremiah 29:11). Simply being in NYC at this time required some God time-warping (and favor). I’m understanding that this particular time and place was molded to have me in it meaning that God thought of me before the beginning of time. Nuts! So God is in no way slow. He’s a master planner so just relax and let Him lead.
3. What is your favorite Bible verse and why? 
There are so many gems in Romans but Romans 8:19 has been my daily mantra. I’ve had this verse stuck in my mind since my move to NYC and the funny thing is I can never remember the reference (unless prompted) but the idea is permanently engrained– “all of creation is eagerly awaiting the reveal of God’s sons and daughters.” Creation has been waiting for me (and you)! I want to serve others, restore hope in those that were hopeless, feeling unworthy, forgotten and unheard but most importantly, I want to do what God has sent me on this earth to do–bring His children home. There is no one else that can do it the way I do. No one else with my gifts and experiences. It’s the ultimate locker room pep talk.
4. What is life teaching you right now?
Life is teaching me how to dream and know that God goes beyond my wildest dreams. There are so many things that I have prayed for that I’m living in now and other things that I’m glad were rejected. My reality is so different and so much better than what I planned for myself. Trading my life for LIFE has been an incredible upgrade.
5. What does being a Christian woman mean to you?
Being a Christian woman means that I strive to be an embodiment of God’s beauty so much so that others are encouraged to participate. It’s experiencing the freedom that comes with choosing and knowing Jesus. It’s making the gospel the obsession of my heart and living it out.
Isn’t she fantastic? Hope that this resonated with you somehow, and I’m looking forward to stories of your own crazy faith steps! 

Be blessed!
StephTheScribe

#PhenomenalWomenWednesdays

Hello beautiful people!

Y’know, I had an epiphany lately: I know some really great women.

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Not to be flowery, sappy, “OhEmmGeeeeeee, everyone I know is awesooome!!”( who…me?), but honestly I have been blessed to find some really phenomenal women from all ages and stages of life, and to exist in this constant state of inspiration and iron sharpening iron. Some of these women have advanced degrees, and some are just starting or returning to school. Some are my age, others younger, still more are a generation apart. Some of these women, like the one I will feature below, I have known for years, and others are more recent gifts, however, the common thread that runs among them is that they all have the capability to minister. Beyond views or likes or funny pictures, the ultimate point of this blog is to reach someone who didn’t think that they were capable of being reached, and to see something here that connects with where you are or where you believe that God is taking you. It is my hope every time that I push publish that there is something here that a soul needed to see. If nothing else, know that the only requirement for your covenant friends is that they chasing Christ and encouraging you to chase Him, too.

I am not egotistical enough to believe that I have the lock and key on a word in season. Ephesians 4:11 mentions the evangelists, the shepherds, the prophets, the apostles, and the teachers, and Matthew 24 talks about the gospel being preached not only locally but all over. We can’t, I certainly can’t do that by myself! Today, I am excited to host my best friend Shannon. We have known each other since our first year of high school, and I jokingly used to call her my wise owl. Shannon is thoughtful, perceptive, intelligent, and she is sharing her story, her testimony, and her views below!

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1. Jump in, jump out, Introduce yourself! What are three things not many people know about you?

Hi there! I’m Shannon and I’ve been friends with Stephanie since our freshman year of high school when she tried to steal my locker in gym class. What started out as me constantly beating her in badminton (no matter what she says, that’s how it went down) has blossomed into a beautiful, life-long sisterhood and I am so grateful that God saw fit to place us together all those years ago.

A few lesser known things about me: my favorite snowball flavor is egg custard, my guilty pleasure is historical romance novels (the kind where some Duke touches some Lady on the elbow and she swoons and falls in love), and I used to want at least three kids … until I had the one.

2. What would you say is your biggest testimony right now?

I’ve recently decided to start blogging about what I believe is my biggest testimony right now: the tale of a first generation active, full-time mom to an energetic, fearless toddler.

When I think of myself as a “first generation” mom it is in the same context as a first generation college student. First generation college students enter the world of higher education with no guidance from their parents because neither parent went through the experience, and so the parents have no clue how to counsel the student and can’t really help with setting or managing the expectations of college life.

That sense of breaking new ground in the family has its own set of challenges that often makes the student feel totally alone and, to a degree, puts the student at a disadvantage compared to students of college educated parents who have likely been groomed for the college experience by parents who have “been there, done that.” In that same sense, I am breaking new ground by being a full-time, active parent because neither of my biological parents raised me.

It’s a testimony that has often been hard for me to articulate. But I am learning that it’s important to share your story even when – especially when – the story is not necessarily neat and pretty so that you (and others) can learn, heal, and grow from it. You can read more about my story at http://www.firstgenmom.com.

3. What is your favorite Bible verse and why? 

One of my favorite bible verses is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Since becoming a parent 2.5 years ago I have really come to understand what that verse means and the true depth of God’s love that one sentence portrays. I have one child. She is my world. Even when she drives me nuts I can’t think of a person, living on this earth or otherwise, that I would give up my one and only child for.

So that God would give up His one and only Son so that I could live – on earth but also in heaven with Him once I have breathed my last breath – is beyond humbling to me.

I am not worthy of such a sacrifice. And yet, knowing fully that despite my best efforts I would always fail in comparison to His beloved Son, God still saw fit to scarifice His one and only Son for me and you. How amazing is that? How much must He love us to make such a sacrifice? And if He loves us enough to give up the one thing that I know I as a parent could never sacrifice myself then we must each be so incredibly important and valuable to Him.

So whenever I doubt myself or my abilities I try and remember that our God gave His one and only Son so that if I just believe in Him that I might live eternally, and therefore my purpose on this earth (which I am still figuring out) must be magnificent.

4. What is life teaching you right now?

Life is teaching me to be patient and listen for God’s guidance. Lately, when I find myself anxiously plotting my next move and trying to jump ahead to what I think God has for me next I feel like God is blocking my moves like that basketball player in that Geico commercial. “No no no. Not in my house!” I know that what God has planned for me is amazing but if I keep trying to force my hand he will continue to block my ill-advised shots. So I am learning to wait, listen, and pray twice as much as I shoot.

5. What does being a Christian woman mean to you?

Being a Christian woman means that it is both my responsibility and my privilege to make a conscious effort daily to live and walk in God’s image. That doesn’t mean that I think I am perfect or that I have to pretend to be. It simply means that I consistently try and choose to be kind, generous, loving, faithful, and forgiving – even when it is hard and unpopular to do so.

Man, Shannon said a mouthful, didn’t she? (I knew she would!) I sincerely hope that something you saw here resonated with you, and I can’t wait to come back next Wednesday with another Phenomenal Woman!!

Be blessed,

StephTheScribe